Update, April 25: Federal Labour Minister Filomena Tassi has given formal notice to Parliament that the government is prepared to introduce “An Act to provide for the resumption and continuation of operations at the Port of Montreal” if the two sides are unable to reach a deal. The legislation could be introduced in the House of Commons as early as Tuesday, April 27.
“Putting forward this notice is our government’s least favoured option. We believe in the collective bargaining process,” tweeted Tassi on Sunday. “However, the Government must act when all other efforts have been exhausted and a work stoppage is causing significant economic harm to Canadians.”
The longshoremen’s union representing workers at the Port of Montreal has filed 72-hour notice of an indefinite general strike to begin on Monday, April 26, according to the Maritime Employers Association.
Members of the Longshoremen’s Union CUPE Local 375 have been going on on partial strike since earlier this month, no longer working overtime and weekends.
The dispute between the union and the Maritime Employers Association goes back more than two years. A truce was reached after the union went on strike in August 2020, but that truce expired in March.
The threat of a strike at the port has created uncertainty over the past month for shippers of containerized agricultural commodities. As Greg Northey of Pulse Canada discussed on RealAg Live last week, there are about 1.5 to 1.8 million tonnes of grains that move through the Port of Montreal each year in containers, with soybeans, wheat, and lentils being the big three.
(1/3) This morning, the MEA received a 72-hour notice of an indefinite general strike starting on Monday, April 26 from the union’s executive of the Port of Montreal Longshoremen.
— Association des employeurs maritimes (@AEMaritimes) April 23, 2021
A notice by the port released Friday says that not all aspects of the port are affected. Not impacted by the strike are: liquid bulk handling; Oceanex service (Bickerdike Terminal); or the Viterra grain terminal.