Associations sound alarm over looming strike at Port of Montreal

The threat of another strike is looming at the Port of Montreal, following the recent breakdown in negotiations between the Maritime Employers Association (MEA) and longshore workers represented by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE). Mediators appointed by federal Labor Minister Filomena Tassi found, after just a few days, that the parties were too far apart. 

(Photo: Port of Montreal)

Economic stakeholders made up of the Association du camionnage du Quebec (ACQ), the Conseil du patronat du Quebec (CPQ), the Federation of Quebec Chambers of Commerce (FCCQ), the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB), and the Manufacturiers et Exportateurs du Quebec (MEQ) reactivated the crisis unit that was formed last summer during the labor dispute at the location. Marc Cadieux, CEO of the ACQ – Quebec’s largest trucking association – reached out to Political Lieutenant of Quebec Pablo Rodriguez and provincial Labor Minister Jean Boulet to help find a solution.

“We agree that a new strike would be catastrophic and that everything must be done to prevent the situation of summer 2020 from repeating itself,” said Cadieux. “A shutdown of port operations and the diversion of goods to competing and more distant ports have direct and significant impacts for the economy of Greater Montreal, for Canadian businesses that depend on international trade, and ultimately for the supply of goods and products for citizens.”  Other associations in the supply chain have expressed similar concerns.

“The imminent possibility of another labor action in the Port of Montreal is a serious threat to Montreal, the province and the overall Canadian economy,” agrees Bruce Rodgers, executive director of the Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association.   “We have still not fully recovered from the strike in the port last August, which according to Statistics Canada cost wholesalers £600 million in sales,” Rodgers said. “To have another interruption now will really stick a knife in the Canadian economy.”  He pointed out that customers are already shifting their traffic to other ports in anticipation of a new strike. 

“This is very serious for Montreal since some of that traffic may not return. But it’s worse for importers and exporters who depend on the port – alternative routes are not capable of meeting the demand. If the strike goes ahead we’ll see delays and lost business at a very significant level.” 

“Port activities are essential to keep the economy running smoothly and for the supply of food, PPE and vaccine supplies.

Maritime transportation workers have been deemed as essential worker providers and this labour impasse cannot be allowed to hold the supply chain hostage,” he added.

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