MONTREAL -- The Quebec and Ontario governments sent a joint letter to the federal government asking it to “exercise its leadership” regarding the general unlimited strike among the Port of Montreal longshore workers that began last week. 

Ottawa must continue its efforts “aimed at promoting dialogue between the parties so that they can quickly reach a negotiated agreement,” said Labour Minister Jean Boulet, Economics Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon and their Ontario counterparts, Monte McNaughton and Victor Fedeli.

In their letter to the federal Labour Minister Filomena Tassi and the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, Navdeep Bains, the ministers say they are “concerned” by the labour dispute’s effects on the economic supply chain of Quebec, Ontario and eastern Canada.

“These activities represent 19,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs, and they are at the heart of an economic ecosystem that brings together Canadian importers and exporters, including 6,300 transport and logistics companies,” The signatories say. “The Port of Montreal is therefore essential for the activities of the companies involved in this ecosystem.”

The Port of Montreal Longshoremens’ union – affiliated with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) – had explained that it had started this strike in reaction to the change in their salary conditions and after having observed “a technical lockout” when several ships were diverted to other ports, removing work from union members.

The talks mainly stumble on the subject of working hours. The collective agreement between the union and the Maritime Employers Association expired on December 31, 2018.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 17, 2020.