Photo: Ryan Remiorz, The canadian Press
In 2018, some 1.7 million containers, and 39 million tons of goods transited through the port of Montreal.
The strike of the longshoremen may well have taken place at the port of Montreal. The maritime employers were unsuccessful in their attempt to declare as essential services all of the activities of the extraction.
The 1125 longshoremen of the port of Montreal, members of the canadian Union of public employees (CUPE), an affiliate of the FTQ, had voted for the strike in December 2018. However, they have not disconnected for a single day since.
It is that the maritime employers Association had sent to the canada industrial relations Board (CIRB) — a quasi-judicial tribunal specializing in labour relations at the federal, asking for the continuation of all of the activities of the stevedores, even in the event of a strike.
The employers asked the CIRB to intervene, alleging that it would “clearly risk imminent and serious for the health and safety of the public” in the event of the outbreak of a strike of 1125 tank tops. They argued that a strike would cause a disruption of supply chains, shortages of essential goods and risks to maritime security.
The CIRB held 25 days of hearings, from February to October 2019. The employers ‘ Association has heard 22 witnesses. And it has failed in its attempt to declare the whole of the activities of the longshoremen as essential services in the event of a strike. “No direct evidence does not allow the Board to conclude that these disadvantages may cause an imminent and serious risk to the health and safety of the public,” wrote the BOARD in its decision, 93 pages.
The BOARD concedes that a possible strike would impact the economy, but reminds us that the right to strike is protected by the labour Code and the supreme Court of Canada has decided in 2015 that this right enjoys constitutional protection.
“Unless direct evidence, and compelling, what is missing in the present case, the maintaining in full of the services of a walkout at the port of Montreal in the event of a strike, as requested by the employer, would make ineffective the exercise of the right to strike,” wrote the CIRB. “The freedom to bargain collectively is severely compromised if employees are not able to exercise their right to strike as a means to counterbalance the economic power of the employer “, wrote the CIRB.
The BOARD recalls that there are other alternatives, such as railway, airplane-cargo, trucking, and other ports, such as Halifax, Saint John, Baltimore, and New York, where a strike of the longshoremen were to be triggered in Montreal. He also recalls that before a strike, the union is required to give a notice of 72 hours to the employer — which would give him time to prepare.
In 2018, some 1.7 million containers, and 39 million tons of goods transited through the port of Montreal. About 2000 ships a year dock there, and up to 2500 trucks come every day. A ship can carry up to 2500 containers.