Port of Montreal | Loading and unloading workers want to abolish the special law

The union that represents 1125 of the loading and unloading workers in the port of Montreal after the adoption of a special law to force the return of its members to work: he applies to the Supreme Court to nullify the procedure.


Julian ArsenaultJulian Arsenault
Journalism

After a strike that lasted for a few days last month, workers represented by the Canadian Federation of Public Servants (CUPE), affiliated with FTQ, returned to the sidewalks when private law was accompanied by heavy fines for non-compliance. With the rules, he was sanctioned on April 30th.

The legislation, announced by Federal Labor Minister Philomena Tassi, also provided for the appointment of an arbitration mediator to settle the dispute between the two parties.

In its 46-page article submitted to the Supreme Court of Quebec, the trade union party requests that “the law providing for the resumption and maintenance of activities in the Port of Montreal” be declared “invalid” and “unconstitutional”.

“Private law unjustifiably violates the right to strike on the stevedores and union that represents them by completely preventing them from exercising this right protected by the charter,” argues the plaintiffs, who have already indicated their intention to challenge the private law.

The application is based in particular on the decision of the Supreme Court of Canada. In 2015, the country’s highest court ruled that the right to strike “is also included in the fundamental right of association protected” under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

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The stevedoring workers ’employment contract expired in December 2018. The main points of contention between the workers and the Maritime Employers’ Association (AEM) revolved around working hours, reconciliation of work and family, as well as disciplinary measures.

In the application, the plaintiffs refer to, among other things, the Saskatchewan decision of the Supreme Court of Canada. In 2015, the country’s highest court ruled that the right to strike “is also included in the fundamental right of association protected” under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Loading and unloading workers also argued that the private law was based on economic motives rather than the public safety issues that pushed Ottawa into action.

“The government’s argument is clearly economic in nature,” says CUPE. He wants at all costs to avoid a slowdown in a windy economic entity that is currently generating massive revenues. “

There was the first strike in the Montreal port in the summer of 2020 as well as another last April, when the CUPE and MEA were negotiating to renew the collective agreement. Key points of contention revolve around work schedules, work-family balance, as well as disciplinary measures.

The mediator is due to hear from both sides on Tuesday. The board declined to provide further comments. Middle East Airlines did not wish to respond to the submission of the request.

After a year of shrinking volumes, the Montreal Port Authority (MPA) indicated earlier this month while publishing its financial results that 2021 has started badly.

Its Chairman and CEO, Martin Emplo indicated that the decrease in volumes in March was more than 10% in March for the container sector. The latter referred to “strike rings” and a “climate of uncertainty” which had “significant and immediate implications” for traffic.

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