A bill to force the maintenance of activities at the Port of Montreal

The federal government has issued a notice of tabling of legislation entitled “An Act providing for the resumption and continuation of activities at the Port of Montreal”, announced the Minister of Labor Filomena Tassi.

• Read also: The strike at the Port would be “catastrophic”

• Read also: Longshoremen threaten to call indefinite general strike on Monday

This bill, which could be tabled at the beginning of the week, plans to force the return and maintenance of activities at the Port of Montreal, despite the longshoremen’s strike which is due to begin on Monday.

Federal Labor Minister Filomena Tassi made the announcement on Twitter.

She adds that this option was the least favored by her government. “We believe in the collective bargaining process,” Filomena Tassi tweeted.

The minister says that all other solutions have been exhausted and that a labor dispute at the Port of Montreal would cause significant economic damage to all Canadians.

Filomena Tassi recalls that Ottawa tried to support the two parties in their negotiations, in particular with more than 100 mediation sessions, but that the employer and the union remain too distant in their positions.

However, the member of the New Democratic Party (NDP) of Rosemont – La Petite-Patrie, Alexandre Boulerice, considers that the measure of the government is “hasty”.

“The workers as longshoremen at the Port of Montreal have rights and have the right to exert pressure tactics,” he said.

By brandishing the specter of a special bill, Mr. Boulerice believes that Ottawa is violating workers’ rights.

“[Le gouvernement] has just destabilized the balance of power at the negotiating table. He has just placed himself on the management side, ”he said.

For Mr. Boulerice, the interference of the Liberals in the conflict is irrelevant as there is “no real economic reason to want to impose things on the union” since the conflict concerns schedules.

“The longshoremen’s union has already said that all essential needs relating to public health (…) would be completely served at 100%”, indicates the member of the NDP.

Sut Twitter, the Quebec Minister of the Economy, Pierre Fitzgibbon, said he was in favor of tabling a special bill to settle the conflict.

“I support the tabling of the bill to settle the conflict. Hopefully Monday’s mediation will work. Always better to negotiate than to go through a special law, ”he wrote.

“The situation is critical for our businesses. 2 strikes in a year is not an acceptable scenario, ”he added.

The Montreal Port Authority (MPA) said it took note of the government’s notice, which it described in a press release as “a clear signal of the recognition of the strategic character of the Port of Montreal”.

“After several episodes of strikes in 2020 and 2021, which had and still have significant economic and logistical impacts, it is essential that the Port of Montreal be able to fully and sustainably play its strategic role as an economic engine serving the population and communities. SMEs from here, without interruption, ”declared Martin Imbleau, President and CEO of the MPA.

The Administration also believes that the partial strike and the notice of an indefinite general strike have resulted in a complete cessation of cargo handling operations since last Friday, which will lead to delays in deliveries in the coming days and weeks.

Some longshoremen are also starting to worry about the entry into force of the indefinite general strike, which is due to begin on Monday.

A source familiar with the matter, who preferred to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal, says several longshoremen believe they have good jobs, with wages of up to $ 72 an hour on weekends.

She also believes that if the conflict continues and goes to arbitration, everyone will be the loser.

The union said it was prepared to back down on pressure tactics on two conditions. First, the union demands that the employer maintain job security, and secondly that they reverse the schedule changes.

However, the two parties have been in discussion for almost two years.

“We don’t feel like we’re asking for Everest, we’re asking for normal working conditions,” said Michel Murray, union advisor at the Canadian Union of Public Employees, in an interview with LCN.

If the strike scheduled for Monday were to materialize, significant consequences could be expected. The Port of Montreal is also connected to more than 140 countries.

The president of the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal, Michel Leblanc, has also said that this strike “literally took the economy hostage.

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