MONTREAL -- Port of Montreal longshoremen began the first in a series of weekend strikes on Saturday.

The new tactic comes on top of overtime strikes that were launched during the week.

The longshoremen will cease working on Saturdays and Sundays for a limited period, but will not picket.

Representatives of their union and of the Maritime Employers Association met on Thursday with three mediators assigned by the federal Ministry of Labour.

Earlier this week, six employers associations made a joint public statement to increase pressure, asking for the personal intervention of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and even calling for the possible passing of special legislation to end the labour dispute.

The 1,150 Port of Montreal longshoremen have been without a collective agreement since September, 2018.

The first strike vote dates back to December of that year.

The partial strikes was announced last Sunday after the MEA announced it would cut pay conditions.