Toronto, October 13, 2023
The Port of Montreal collective agreements with longshoremen (port handlers) will end on December 31st. Negotiating teams from the Maritime Employers Association (MEA) and CUPE 375, which represents Montreal longshoremen, first met on September 13th to disclose demands. On September 22nd, the union executive committee sent a notice of dispute to the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB).
Mediators were appointed on October 6th by the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, opening a conciliation period of 60 days that will be followed by a 21-day cool-off period, if required. The conciliation period can be extended if both parties agree. On October 4th, the MEA filed a complaint to the CIRB of bad faith negotiation, saying that the union executive refused to negotiate before filing its notice of dispute. On October 6th, the MEA filed an essential services request, aiming to ensure that activities at the port continue despite a potential conflict related to negotiations. No pressure tactics or strike by the union, or lockout by the MEA can be undertaken while the essential services process is ongoing.
Longshoremen at the Port of Montreal want wage increases of at least 20% over four years and full job security after three years. For its part, their employer wants to “adjust” the number of employees who benefit from their security and wants an employment contract that guarantees union peace until the end of the decade. The talks between the two parties are taking place under the sign of slowdown at the Port of Montreal. From January to August, the volume of containers passing through the city’s docks was down 14.5% compared to last year. While the issue of modernization was one of the sticking points that led to the strike that paralyzed the Port of Vancouver in July, it does not seem to be at the centre of these negotiations.
For more information, please call David Lychek, Director – Ocean & Air Services at (905) 882-4880, ext. 1207.