Following the recent MEA action reducing compensation for time not worked, and the partial strike by the longshore workers, MEA has reported that the Labour Canada mediation service has called the parties to separate meetings today.
Our colleagues at the Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association (CIFFA) drafted the following summary of the main points made by the union spokesperson at the CUPE, Local 375 French language news conference yesterday.
Union head Michel Murray said the union was surprised that, after four days of intense negotiations last week, the MEA issued the statement over the weekend of a 72-hour notice to the union of removing the income guarantee and stopping paying the hours that are not worked, in order to mitigate the adverse effects of an 11% volume drop in March, which the union disputes.
Murray disputed the argument that urgently needed pandemic-related goods are transiting the Port of Montreal and stated that vaccines are transported by air and for the most part via Pearson International Airport.
Murray noted rising costs to the worldwide transport of containers – and “exploding rates,” as well as the profitability of ocean carriers, saying it’s not the longshoremen who are causing this rise in costs to industry.
The union’s last contract was put together in 2013 following difficult economic circumstances (evolving after the Great Recession); considering ocean carrier profitability today, the circumstances during negotiation are very different.
The union says it prefers and has always preferred to return to the negotiating table.
During the Q&A period at the end of the session, Murray told reporters that manufacturers (industry) use the Port of Montreal because it is cost-effective and the shortest distance from Europe to North America. Instead of writing to elected officials or to the Minister of Labour in Quebec, he said industry should write to the employer (MEA) to ask them to come to the table with their “big boy pants on,” and to negotiate properly instead of throwing fuel on the fire and scaring the entire population.
The union says that, while there may be delays to picking up containers, there won’t necessarily be an impact from their action. It’s not going to impact Monday-to-Friday pickups.
The union’s two main issues are work-life balance accommodation in the contract and hours of work.
The Montreal Port Authority has been largely silent on the dispute, however the President, Mr. Martin Imbleau, issued a statement this morning on the dispute which can be found at
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce issued a news release this morning, supported by many other industry associations, including FMA. The release can be found at https://chamber.ca/news/
FMA is drafting a second letter to the Labour Minister, copying the Prime Minister and other cabinet ministers, and continues to recommend that member companies reach out to the Labour Minister, other Cabinet Ministers, and to MPs in ridings where their facilities are located. As the situation deteriorates, the letters outlining the damages inflicted become even more important.
Please feel free to use any wording from the FMA Letter.
Here are the email addresses of the Labour Minister and other suggested Cabinet Ministers.
- Hon. Filomena Tassi, Minister of Labour: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister: email@example.com;
- Oliver Duchesne, PM staff member: firstname.lastname@example.org;
- Hon. Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Natural Resources:
- Hon. Omar Alghabra, Minister of Transport: email@example.com;
- Hon. Francois-Phillipe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry:
- Hon. Marc Garneau, Minister of Foreign Affairs: firstname.lastname@example.org