The Maritime Employers Association (MEA) on Friday said it received a 72-hour notice of an indefinite strike starting on Monday, April 26 from the union’s executive of the Port of Montreal Longshoremen.
“It is important to state that the MEA used the provisions of the collective agreement which allow it to switch to regular schedules in order to compensate the harmful effects of the strike,” MEA tweeted. “This decision from the union’s executive is very disappointing while the fluidity of the logistic chain remains crucial to the economic recovery. The MEA is currently evaluating all of its options. We are eager for a speedy settlement.”
Bruce Rodgers, executive director of the Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association (CIFFA) said on Thursday, “In the same week the federal government committed tens of billions to stimulate the economy, a labour dispute in one of Canada’s most critical transportation hubs is acting to supress economic growth.”
The businesses and citizens of Montreal and Quebec have become pawns in a destructive game played by the parties in the Port of Montreal’s ongoing labour dispute, Rodgers says.
An orchestrated slowdown over the last two weeks has led to a growing backlog at the Port. “Even if the dispute was resolved today, we’d still see serious consequences for people and businesses of all kinds,” he said.
“But the situation doesn’t seem to be getting better. On the contrary, the disputing parties are digging in their heels. We are calling on government to intervene to ensure the situation doesn’t get any worse, but instead gets resolved immediately.”
CIFFA expressed frustration that the two sides were still engaged in pressure tactics rather than negotiating. A “slowdown” campaign by the longshoremen has reduced hours of operation, while a recent schedule change by the employer has angered the workforce.
“Missing in all these gestures is any awareness of the enormous cost the situation represents for shippers, consumers and for Canada,” said Rodgers. “Already shippers are steering traffic away from Montreal, a trend which may not be easily reversed.”
Rodgers said the fragile economic recovery is imperilled by the labour disruptions. “This is a critical time for Canada and the Canadian government needs to take action.”
This is a developing story and will be updated.