Ottawa tables legislation to send striking Port of Montreal workers back on the job


Federal Labour Minister Filomena Tassi has tabled back-to-work legislation to force more than 1,000 people back on the job at the port.

More than 1,000 dock workers walked off the job at the Port of Montreal on Monday. They have been without a contract since 2018. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

Federal Labour Minister Filomena Tassi has tabled back-to-work legislation for the Port of Montreal — as 1,150 dock workers have been on strike since Monday morning.

The legislation is set to be debated this afternoon.

The strike has effectively halted operations at one of the country's busiest ports and threatening the supply chains of thousands of businesses.

Tassi indicated last week she was willing to legislate the workers' return to work if negotiations with their employers, the Maritime Employers Association (MEA), went poorly during the strike.

A mediation session took place Monday, shortly after the strike began, but the union said the government's intention to legislate has killed the employer's incentive to reach a deal.

The union reacted to the tabling of the legislation almost immediately, calling it "an affront to all workers in the country."

In a news release, the Quebec director of the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), Marc Ranger, said the Liberal government was simply following the MEA's wishes.

"Fundamental rights are being violated. It is shameful for a government that calls itself a defender of the middle class," Ranger said.

The dock workers have been without a contract since 2018. The union says the current dispute was triggered when their the MEA extended the workday without consulting them.

For its part, the MEA says it needs more flexibility from its workers to adapt to the changing demands on the port, which is the second largest in the country and a key transit point for goods destined for businesses in Eastern Canada.

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