Shipping and Logistics

Montreal Port Strike Ended by Government

Written by Sandy Williams

Port of Montreal dockworkers were back to work on Saturday after the Canadian Parliament passed legislation forcing an end to the five-day strike.

Quick passage of Bill C-29 was lauded by the Port Authority, but union officials called it a “shameful day for Canadians.” The back-to-work legislation requires the union and Maritime Employers Association to reach a collective agreement and prevents any further work stoppages at the port.

Port officials said a prior settlement would have been preferable, but the decision will remove “operational and commercial uncertainty” related to labor relations between Canadian Union of Public Employees 375 and the MEA.

“This new turning point lets the Port of Montreal regain stability and the capability to fulfill its strategic role as a public service without long-term interruptions. This role is especially important while we are still in the middle of a pandemic,” said Martin Imbleau, President and CEO of the Montreal Port Authority. “Our priority now is to plan for the resumption of port operations and to ensure efficient and seamless service not only to local importers and exporters, but also to our ultimate client, the public, as quickly as possible.”

CUPE says Bill C-29 is unconstitutional and “infringes on fundamental rights protected by the Charter.” The union says it will challenge the decision in the courts.

“The Liberals haven’t just failed dockworkers in Montreal, they’ve failed all working people in Canada,” said CUPE National President Mark Hancock. “Prime Minister Trudeau just sent a loud and clear message to every employer in the country: don’t bother bargaining in good faith with your workers, because if things get tough, we’ll be there to bail you out.”

Port officials said it will take a few days to return operations to normal and delays should be expected.

Latest in Shipping and Logistics

CRU: Baltimore bridge collapse affects more than half of US thermal coal exports

A container ship collided with the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore on March 26, causing it to collapse. This has blocked sea lanes into and out of Baltimore port, which is the largest source of US seaborne thermal coal exports. The port usually exports 1–1.5 million metric tons (mt) of thermal coal per month. It is uncertain when sea shipping will be restored. But it could be several weeks or more. There are coal export terminals in Virginia, though diversion to these ports would raise costs.