Rally backs locked-out Shell oil workers in Quebec

By Beverly Bernardo
May 3, 2021
Rally backs locked-out Shell oil workers in Quebec
Militant/Steve Penner

MONTREAL — More than 150 people rallied April 13 in front of Shell’s oil terminal here in solidarity with 17 members of Unifor Local 121 locked out by the bosses since November. They’ve been without a contract for almost two years.

The union fighters have been standing up to Shell, “maintaining picket lines 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Local 121 President Eric Lepage told the rally. “We don’t give up easily.”

Shell Canada bosses are refusing to offer the terminal workers the same terms they agreed to with other oil workers in 2019 under the National Energy Program, which covers 8,500 workers organized by Unifor across Canada. Workers made gains on wages, severance pay and other issues.

The terminal bosses are demanding a two-year wage freeze, to eliminate 30% of the jobs and to be able to use more contract workers to replace union members. They also insist on no retroactivity once a new contract is signed.

“We’re here because of the importance of solidarity. These actions can change someone’s life,” Jean-Marc Lemoyne, president of Unifor Local 50 at Kruger’s paper mill in Gatineau, Quebec, told the Militant. Lemoyne made the two-hour trip to the rally with two of his co-workers. Groups of Unifor workers from several workplaces in the area joined in.

Several members of other unions affiliated with the Quebec Federation of Labor also came out to show their support, including United Steelworkers, United Food and Commercial Workers, Canadian Union of Postal Workers and the Canadian Union of Public Employees.