Longshoremen, maritime employers to once again meet with federal mediators
MONTREAL -- Federal mediators will once again try and find common ground between Port of Montreal workers and the Association of Maritime Employers (AEM).
The union representing the longshoremen have recently stepped up pressure tactics as talks between the two parties have stalled.
On Monday, the AEM said it had been summoned to a meeting by mediators for Tuesday morning and intended to have representatives there.
At a press conference earlier in the day, the union tried to reassure companies that rely on the port saying the “partial strike” announced Sunday would not prevent them from accessing their containers.
The union maintained it had little choice but to turn to “economic means of pressure on the employers” after the AEM announced on Saturday it would “suspend certain conditions of remuneration” for longshoremen.
The longshoremen had initially planned an overtime strike on Wednesday and a work stoppage from Saturday to Monday morning, leading to rising tensions over the weekend after a seven-month truce that began after a strike last summer.
“We are forced to note that the employers and shipping companies fired the first salvo, putting pressure on the longshoremen,” said CUPE union adviser Michel Murray. “We had no choice but to respond with economic pressure on shipping companies.”
The AEM confirmed on Monday it had told the union it was going to stop paying for hours not worked.
“These pressure tactics, namely stopping overtime, mooring, training and weekend work are presented as a response to the cessation of remuneration for hours not worked,” they said. “This indefinite strike places the Montreal port industry in a precarious situation. This decision by the union will very quickly cause significant congestion and will have a major impact on the fluidity of the logistics chain, greatly weakening the economic recovery in Quebec and Canada.”
Murray said his union's members will take care of all containers related to the pandemic. He noted that COVID-19 vaccines and drugs do not, for the most part, pass through the Port of Montreal but arrive at airports.
The Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters have strongly urged the federal government to intervene, “to avoid any additional impact on the supply chain already weakened by COVID-19.”
Murray also criticized Mayor Valerie Plante, who has expressed concern about the conflict's repercussions on Montreal's economy.
“I hope the left is not going to ask for special laws,” he said.
On Monday, the mayor invited the parties to negotiate, saying “We need the port to roll. A strike is the last thing we need. Other ports are resuming activities.”