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Longshore workers at Port of Montreal launch unlimited strike as contract talks stall

Striking Port of Montreal workers had a four-day walkout Monday, July 27, 2020 in Montreal. The workers have been without a contract for over two years.
Striking Port of Montreal workers had a four-day walkout Monday, July 27, 2020 in Montreal. The workers have been without a contract for over two years. Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

Longshore workers at the Port of Montreal launched an unlimited general strike Monday morning as contract talks continue to stall.

The pressure tactic comes as the union representing longshore workers and management have tried to negotiate a collective agreement over nearly the past two years. The main sticking point is working hours, according to the union.

The strike, which kicked off at 7 a.m., shut down activity at Canada’s second-largest port with the exception of grain transport and shipments to Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Maritime Employers Association issued a statement Monday morning, saying the two sides had met Sunday but did not reach an agreement. It said it believes a deal is still possible and “the lines of communication” remain open.

The union, for its part, had tabled a strike notice on Friday and warned it would “close the port” if no agreement “was reached with employers by Sunday.

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READ MORE: Port of Montreal longshoremen’s union launches 4-day strike over working hours

After the strike notice was delivered, the Montreal Port Authority said last week it was concerned about the “serious impacts” by ongoing strike episodes during the novel coronavirus pandemic and “time of economic crisis.”

“The MPA is very concerned about these work stoppages affecting public health and safety during a global pandemic, as port operations are essential to keep the economy running smoothly and to supply food and other essential products,” the organization wrote in a statement.

Workers at the waterfront had also staged a four-day walkout in late July over failed negotiations.

Longshore workers have been without a contract for nearly two years. Their collective agreement ended on Dec. 31, 2018.

— With files from the Canadian Press