On the Picket Line

Seven-month ‘truce’ ends Montreal port strike

By John Steele
September 14, 2020

MONTREAL — A hard-fought 12-day strike for a new contract by 1,125 Montreal port workers against the Maritime Employers Association ended Aug. 21 following the signing of a seven-month “truce” between officials of the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 375 and the MEA. For port workers the main issue is unsafe and inhuman work schedules which force them to work 19 days straight out of 21.

Several workers on an Aug. 30 shift change told the Militant  that the struggle is not over. “The union came out of this fight stronger,” port worker Claude Trépanier, with 20 years on the job, said.

The strike ended two days after the workers forced the port bosses to back down on plans to use scab labor to move 480 containers it claimed had important time-sensitive cargo. 

Ottawa’s minister of labor, Filomena Tassi, who engineered the truce, called its terms “non-negotiable.” Karl Blackburn, CEO of the Quebec Employers Council, called the agreement “a relief,” saying, “For 10 days the whole Quebec economy was taken hostage,” by the strikers.

The truce, which ends March 21, was not voted on by the strikers. It rules out any further strikes by workers or lockouts by the bosses as negotiations take place for a new contact. The old one that expired in 2018 will remain in place for now.

The 27 workers who were fired over a July confrontation between strikers and scabs during an earlier four-day strike will get their jobs back. Local 375 President Martin Lapierre said the union will let “justice take its course” for nine strikers charged with criminal offenses in that incident.