The coming into effect of new work schedules has increased tensions between longshoremen in the Port of Montreal and their employer, TVA Nouvelles said.
Hundreds of workers affiliated with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) learned last Thursday that new work schedules will soon be in effect. On Sunday, they gathered in a reception room in Montreal’s Saint-Léonard borough to learn about the schedule changes that occur when a conciliation process is under way to renew the collective agreement that will come to an end. due at the end of the year.
“Last Thursday, the employer sent a letter announcing extraordinary changes to work schedules. Not only Monday, we will reduce the staff, we also change their work schedule. The union members had a work schedule where they were rotating to allow productivity 24 hours a day. Now, there will be breaks in the day. People who worked with their fellow workers to start at 8:20 instead of 7:00 am to bring their child to the daycare are all forced to start at 7 am tomorrow morning. It’s a fundamental change in their working conditions, “CUPE union advisor Michel Murray told TVA News.
According to him, the union members are in “fury” against the port of Montreal. “We’re going to take legal action against the employer at the Canada Industrial Relations Board,” Murray said, adding that the imposed hours “have never been used by shipping companies in the last 40 years.”
“We consider that in full negotiation, it is only a gesture of provocation on the part of the employer,” continued the union advisor.
In addition, Michel Murray took the opportunity to strongly denounce many dismissals among its members.
“There have been 12 dismissals to date and 950 days and more since the beginning of the year of disciplinary action given to our members. The longshoremen are tanned by this oppressive regime. For the last five years, the new employer system in place, the new regime of the Maritime Employers Association, has been attacking us. It is the cult of speed, productivity and domination. The longshoremen will not let themselves be dragged like sheep to the slaughterhouse, smiling, without anything happening. If we do not have a contract of employment by the end of the year, we will be entitled to pressure tactics from January 1st and we will certainly exercise them if we do not have a contract to the satisfaction of our longshoremen, “said Murray.
Asked by TVA News on the type of dismissals, Mr. Murray described some of them as “silly”.
“We stevedores, we do our work on the docks. Now, the bosses, from the top of their office 12 feet by 12 feet, as soon as the longshoreman raises the tone, with a simple stroke of a pencil, they dismiss our members, they mess up the family life, they shake up the lives of children by saying we will see each other again in arbitration in three years time. Dismissals range from absenteeism to nonsense. They even fired our active union vice-president who sent a letter to the companies of the Port of Montreal saying that they had not done any planning, that we were in a total mess with the operations and because ‘he sent this letter, our union vice president was fired,’ said the union advisor.