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Port of Montreal dockworkers back on the job after Senate passes legislation

Striking dockworkers at the Port of Montreal, Canada’s second-largest port, were ordered back to work, after the Senate of Canada approved legislation passed the day before by the House of Commons. The port’s terminals opened at 7:00 am on Sunday. The workers had been on strike since April 26.

Montreal Port Authority said that the unlimited general strike and the partial strike preceding it, beginning on April 13, “seriously affected cargo handling in the container and dry bulk sectors.” It warned customers to expect delays in the coming weeks.

In addition, to ending the work stoppage, the legislation requires that the Maritime Employers Association (MEA) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees local that represents the dockworkers resolve their issues through a neutral mediation-arbitration process and conclude a new collective agreement.

Michel Murray, representative for the union, said, “In a democratic context, the Charter [of Rights and Freedoms] applies, and we believe that this law is unconstitutional.” He said the union will contest the bill in court.

During the Senate hearing, MEA President Martin Tessier promised that the extended shifts his organisation had imposed, which caused the longshoremen to strike, would be scrapped.

A number of national industry associations, led by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, said in a press release on Friday, “We welcome the Senate’s passage of back-to-work legislation. The prospect of a second strike in seven months has disrupted supply chains in all industries and has threatened Canada’s recovery at a time when our economy is at its most precarious.”

Kim Biggar

Kim Biggar started writing in the supply chain sector in 2000, when she joined the Canadian Association of Supply Chain & Logistics Management. In 2004/2005, she was project manager for the Government of Canada-funded Canadian Logistics Skills Committee, which led to her 13-year role as communications manager of the Canadian Supply Chain Sector Council. A longtime freelance writer, Kim has contributed to publications including The Forwarder, 3PL Americas, The Shipper Advocate and Supply Chain Canada.
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