A general strike at the Port of Montreal has begun with more than 1,000 longshoremen, affiliated to the Canadian Union of Public Employees Local (CUPE) 375, walking off the job at 7 a.m. on Monday, CityNews Montreal reported. A mediation session was scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.
The federal government will intervene, said labour minister Filomena Tassi in a series of tweets on Sunday.
“This morning, our government issued a notice to introduce legislation entitled ‘An Act to provide for the resumption and continuation of activities at the Port of Montreal’,” Tassi, tweeted on Sunday.
“The government must act when all other options are exhausted and a labour dispute causes significant economic damage to Canadians. The Port of Montreal is essential to the economic vitality of Canadians across the country, particularly those in Quebec and the eastern part of the country,” her tweet said.
The longshoremen say the actions are in response to a change in work shifts that their employer wants to impose on them. They had already been on an overtime strike and refused to work on weekends since April 17 and 18.
CUPE is slamming the federal government’s decision to introduce back-to-work legislation to end the labour action.
“Once again the Trudeau Liberals are acting like Conservatives, siding with bosses against workers by meddling in the bargaining process,” said CUPE national president Mark Hancock. “There can never be free, fair collective bargaining in Canada under the threat of back-to-work legislation.”
CUPE is demanding the Liberals withhold their back-to-work legislation, which would infringe upon workers’ rights to free and fair bargaining. These types of bills have been repeatedly found to be unconstitutional by the courts.
“Employers have no incentive to bargain in good faith when they know the government will come to their rescue,” said CUPE national secretary-treasurer Charles Fleury. “This is disgraceful conduct from a government that pretends to be a friend to working people.”