Thursday, July 29, 2010

Canadian Dock Lockout Terminated

Port of Montreal Back to Work Protocol Agreed
Shipping News Feature

CANADA – After harsh words had been exchanged over what the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) called last week “a needless overreaction” it seems talks are to resume at the Port of Montreal which will possibly mean an end to the labour dispute which commenced in June. On the 27th of that month the dockworkers claim that employers changed the working conditions of 169 dockers with the least seniority. The longshoremen responded by refusing to work overtime as of the 9th July.

On Sunday the 18th July the union and employers met all afternoon and planned to continue ongoing negotiations during the following week. During the next 48 hours however there was a lockout preventing access to the port and infuriating union officials. The Syndicat des Debardeurs , which is part of CUPE (the Canadian Union of Public Employees) and members of the ITF, described the lockout as “incomprehensible and pointless” and said that when the news of the lockout reached them they were in the middle of a general meeting to cancel the planned application of pressure tactics. They pointed out that overtime is voluntary and no reason to be excluded from work.

Now it appears common sense has prevailed on both sides and they have agreed a protocol to return to work enabling the port to function whilst negotiations continue, with union representative Michel Murray saying that with both sides talking an agreement could be reached in the next few weeks.

Shipping through the port, Canada’s second largest behind Vancouver and capable of handling one and a quarter million TEU’s per annum, has been diverted to other ports, principally Halifax, since the dispute started and the problems are causing delays and possibly the cancellation of new contracts and investments.

Photo: Courtesy Port of Montreal