Federal officials are involved in preventing a potential third labour stoppage in four years at the Port of Montreal, where dock workers have been without a labour deal since their agreement expired on December 31. The Maritime Employers Association (MEA) in Montreal, which includes approximately 1,290 longshore workers and 165 checkers, is in ongoing negotiations with union representatives. The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service experts are assisting in these discussions.
Pressure tactics, like strikes or lockouts, are pending a ruling by the Canada Industrial Relations Board on the MEA’s request to deem all longshoring activities at the port essential. A decision is expected after the parties submit more information by mid-February 2024. The Port of Montreal experienced labour disputes during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, leading to significant supply chain disruptions. The federal government intervened with back-to-work legislation during the second conflict.
Montreal serves as Eastern Canada’s primary trading hub, supporting around 75% of the country’s manufacturing capacity and nearly two-thirds of the population. Ongoing labour negotiations are considered crucial for maintaining a stable business environment. Preliminary figures indicate a 2% volume decline at the Port of Montreal in 2023, reflecting a global economic slowdown. Container volumes, specifically, dropped by 8.8% due to decreased consumer demand for imports. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed concern about the potential long-term consequences of a strike at the Port of Montreal, highlighting the impact on supply chains and the risk of customers choosing alternative transportation methods permanently.
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