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Employers, striking dockworkers reach truce, Montreal port to reopen

Click to play video: 'Employers, striking dockworkers reach truce, Montreal port to reopen' Employers, striking dockworkers reach truce, Montreal port to reopen
WATCH: The smallest of two striking unions at the Port of Montreal have come to an agreement with Management. The International Longshoremen’s Association represents 175 port checkers -- employees who check incoming and outgoing cargo -- at the port of Montreal. Globals' Gloria Henriquez has the details – Aug 21, 2020

Employers and dockworkers at the Port of Montreal have reached a truce after a 12-day strike, paving the way for Canada’s second largest port to reopen Sunday.

The two sides have agreed to halt a labour action that has left thousands of containers languishing on the docks. The deal lays out a seven-month period to continue contract talks while port operations carry on without the threat of work stoppage.

“We are confident that we will be able to reach a deal between now and that…time,” Maritime Employers Association CEO Martin Tessier said at a news conference Friday.

READ MORE: Negotiations continue as Port of Montreal longshore workers’ strike enters 9th day

If an agreement is not reached by March 20, the workers can again exercise their right to strike.

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The last few days saw tensions flare after employers said they were prepared to bring in replacement workers to move some of the 11,500 containers that have piled up on the waterfront — particularly those with essential goods, perishable food products or items linked to the fight against COIVD-19.

However, talks late Thursday night and Friday morning hashed out the truce.

“It’s very important for me…I haven’t really seen my daughters for three weeks,” said Michel Murray, a spokesman for the Canadian Union of Public Employees.

“The struggle was emotional for both parties.”

Both sides say they have agreed not to speak to the media about the progress toward a collective agreement, allowing more breathing room for the negotiators.

READ MORE: Quebec, Ontario ask Ottawa to intervene in Montreal port strike, now in week two

The 1,125 workers, who have been without a collective agreement since September 2018, say the strike revolved largely around wages and scheduling.

Federal Labour Minister Filomena Tassi had refused to intervene in the negotiations, citing her belief in the bargaining process despite calls from industry groups and the Ontario and Quebec governments for more direct involvement.

The employers have also reached an agreement in principle with the port’s 150-odd checkers, who are responsible for logging the cargo loaded and unloaded from hundreds of ships each year.

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Members of the International Longshoremen’s Association local, on strike since Aug. 10, will hold a vote on the deal Monday, Tessier said.

It will take two to four weeks to move the accumulated containers off the terminals and onto trucks, trains and ships.

Click to play video: 'Longshoremen on strike at the Port of Montreal' Longshoremen on strike at the Port of Montreal
Longshoremen on strike at the Port of Montreal – Jul 30, 2020

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