Date: 06.05.2021

Canadian government legislate against Montreal strike

Port operations at Montreal resumed on Sunday after legislation was passed by the Canadian Parliament to end the industrial action by longshoremen, however it will take several days, or probably weeks, to return operations to anything like a normal situation.

About ten ships are currently en-route to Montreal and 20,000 containers are in the terminal, due to recent work stoppages, which means shippers waiting to import or export goods should expect delays for the next few weeks.

The dispute between the longshoremen and the port employers has been going on since 2018, with numerous industrial actions hitting the port last year, forcing shippers to divert cargo, and a recent strike starting on the 26th April, which followed a partial strike that had been ongoing since the 13th April.

The passing of BILL C-29 by the Canadian government on Friday, provide for the resumption and continuation of operations at the Port of Montreal and imposes mediation as the process for resolving matters remaining in dispute. 

It empowers the mediator-arbitrator to impose arbitration as the process for resolving matters that cannot be resolved through mediation and sets out the elements that are to be included in the new collective agreement between the parties.

Following the passing of the Bill, the Canadian Union of Public Employees said the Montreal Longshore Workers’ Union has announced it plans to contest the legislation before the courts and that it had already filed a complaint with the International Labour Organisation.

The threatened strikes would have been costly for Montreal, which suffered a 13-day strike in 2020, leading its total traffic to drop 14% compared to 2019, while its container throughput dropped almost 9% in 2020.

It is good news that the threat of strike action at Montreal has been lifted, but disruptions should be anticipated throughout the supply chain during this time, which is why we monitor the global situation closely, to avoid issues completely and do everything we can to ease the impact and provide alternative solutions where and if necessary. 

If you have any questions, concerns, or would like any further information regarding the situation in Canada and the United States, please don’t hesitate to contact Kevin Lake, who leads our North American operations.