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Port of Montreal president slams tit-for tat strike by its dockers

MONTREAL Port Authority president Martin Imbleau issued a statement against the docker strike as it would damage the Canadian economy, reports the American Journal of Transportation

19 April 2021 - 19:00
MONTREAL Port Authority president Martin Imbleau issued a statement against the docker strike as it would damage the Canadian economy, reports the American Journal of Transportation.

Tensions have been high with Montreal's container terminal operators handling 1.6 million TEU annually. Working schedules are the primary issue to renew a collective agreement which expired on December 31, 2018. Previously, a series of strikes occurred last summer.



'Created to cost-effectively meet the needs of importers and exporters, the Port of Montreal is a strategic infrastructure serving millions of Quebecers and other Canadians,' said Mr Imbleau.



'Every year, C$100 billion (US$80 billion) worth of goods pass through our facilities. That's close to C$275 million a day! That cargo includes goods that go to families in the Greater Montreal area who are renovating their homes, to manufacturers in central Quebec, to pharmacies in Quebec City, and to automobile plants in Ontario. The Port of Montreal is not the port of a single city or company or industry: it's every resident in Eastern Canada's port,' said Mr Imbleau.



Mr Imbleau also declared how the port was hit by uncertainty.



'The port is being hit by a climate of uncertainty incompatible with a shipping industry that must choose to divert its vessels to provide a minimum of reliability despite the added delays and costs. The recent deterioration in labour relations between the dockworkers' union CUPE 375 and the Maritime Employers Association is seriously impacting our ability to fulfill a mission that has been drastically curtailed,' said Mr Imbleau.



And the potential for escalation will only further curtail it. After an 11 per cent decline in volumes in March, the port now has to deal with decisions that will drop its port capacity by close to 30 per cent. For once in its history, the Port of Montreal is posting results that pale in comparison to its competitors on the US east coast, who are enjoying significant growth,' said Mr Imbleau.



Mr Imbleau went on to discuss the importance of international trade.



'The continuity of international trade is essential not only to the supply of critical goods, but also to the very functioning of our economy, whether or not in recovery. Accordingly, the Port of Montreal has a dual role as an economic agent that creates wealth and as a reliable public service that ensures the security of the communities it serves. This is becoming an increasingly difficult mandate,' said Mr Imbleau.



'Since the pandemic began, supply chains have proved their importance, and governments have designated those involved in the sector as essential or priority workers,' Mr Imbleau said. 'The reduced scope of scheduled work will generate delays and additional costs for clients in Quebec and Ontario. Public services are rarely offered on a part-time basis, yet this is what will be imposed on the thousands of businesses that are the Port of Montreal's raison d'etre,' he said.


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