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Montreal casino workers threaten to strike during busy Grand Prix season

Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz in action at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal on Sunday, June 19, 2022.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz in action at the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal on Sunday, June 19, 2022.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

More than 1,000 Casino de Montréal employees have issued a five-day strike mandate to be used "at the appropriate time" -- and the busy Formula 1 Grand Prix weekend could well be it.

In a Saturday press release, the CSN-affiliated union representing casino workers announced its members had voted 91 per cent in favour of a five-day strike, noting that the mandate was given "in the run-up to the Montreal Grand Prix."

The Formula 1 Gilles-Villeneuve race on Île Notre-Dame, where the casino is also located, is one of the most popular tourist events in Montreal during the summer season. This year it takes place from June 16 to 18.

The union could use this crucial weekend to speed up negotiations, which have been underway as of June 2022.

Wages are at the heart of the dispute. Employees are asking for increases that represent "the equivalent of the rise in the cost of living plus $1 per hour" to "protect employees' purchasing power and improve attraction and retention."

Loto-Québec, which runs the casino, quickly reacted to the announcement with its own press release, ensuring that business would continue as usual in the province's casinos despite pressure tactics.

The company argued it has already presented "two comprehensive and generous monetary offers" which were adequate to "address the major issues of attraction, retention and the economic context."

Employees at the Casino de Gatineau and Jeux en ligne have also issued similar five-day strike mandates, while workers at the Charlevoix and Mont-Tremblant casinos are expected to hold votes in the next few days.

Those affected by the current negotiations work in customer service, catering and security at the casinos. Croupiers (dealers) are not involved, as they are represented by another union.

The croupiers also held various pressure tactics last year before reaching an agreement with their employer in August. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on June 3, 2023. Top Stories

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