Montreal port workers strike over unsafe schedules

By John Steele
August 24, 2020
Militant/John Steele

MONTREAL — Some 1,125 port workers, members of Local 375 of the Canadian Union of Public Employees, went on strike here Aug. 10 in an important labor battle for all working people. The key issue is exhausting schedules that force workers to work 19 days straight out of 21. This makes it increasingly difficult to work safely and wreaks havoc with any semblance of family life. The strikers are also fighting against an Aug. 3 decision by the port bosses to cut overtime rates for afternoon, night and weekend shifts.

Workers have been without a contract with the Maritime Employers Association since December 2018. The decision to call “unlimited” strike action followed the bosses’ refusal to budge after a 40-hour strike on July 2 and a pair of four-day strikes that started July 27. The Montreal port is the second largest in Canada, servicing all of eastern Canada and beyond.

Maritime bosses have called for Ottawa to intervene, which could impose compulsory arbitration. The union has rejected this, saying it’s stacked against workers. Solidarity messages should be sent to Syndicat des débardeurs, 7020 Notre Dame East, Montreal, H1N 3L6. Tel: (514) 255-8868. Fax: (514) 255-8211.