Montreal port workers vow to fight back after Canada government passes law to end strike By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Longshore workers strike in front of Port of Montreal in Montreal

(Reuters) -A union representing dockworkers at Canada’s second-biggest port said on Saturday it will challenge the Canadian government’s new strike-ending law in court as it violates fundamental rights protected by the charter.

Late on Friday, the Canadian government passed back-to-work legislation to halt a strike that began at the Port of Montreal this week by workers over changes to their work schedules.

The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Quebec’s 1,125 longshore workers at the port have called the new work schedules by the Maritime Employers Association unfair and have demanded that they be withdrawn. They began their second strike in less than a year on Monday.

CUPE said it is a dark day for workers’ rights in Canada.

“Prime Minister Trudeau has just sent a strong and clear message to all employers across the country: no need to negotiate in good faith with your workers, because if the going gets tough, we’ll be there to support you,” Mark Hancock, president of CUPE National, said.

Labor Minister Filomena Tassi said in a statement on Friday that the bill had received royal assent, ending the strike, adding that all port operations had to resume when the law came into effect on Saturday.

The government will work with the parties to select a mediator in the coming days to help reach a deal, Tassi said, adding that a mediator-arbitrator would be selected in the coming days.

The unionized workers have been in contract negotiations since 2018.

Business leaders had urged the government to intervene, raising concerns over the strike disrupting supply chains, as the country struggles to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce estimated the labor stoppage would cost between C$10 million and C$25 million per day.

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