At a time when Lebanon is commemorating the explosion at the Beirut Port on September 11, 2020, the union representing Port of Quebec longshore workers is denouncing that this same chemical compound that caused that tragedy has been handled by replacement workers since the beginning of the lockout.
When the longshore workers were on the job, ammonium nitrate was transferred between two ships – the Umiak 1 and the Arvik 1. Every month, these ships were loaded and sent up to Northern Quebec where ammonium nitrate is used as an explosive in mines. We therefore have every reason to believe that this is still the case. This week, both ships are at the dock. Consequently, it is highly likely that replacement workers are continuing to handle ammonium nitrate.
This work is being done in the Anse-au-Foulon sector of the Port of Quebec. The situation is particularly delicate in this instance because the homes of citizens in this area would be at risk if an explosion were to occur.
“It is the job of our members to handle this very dangerous and highly explosive material. It has to be understood that workers must take comprehensive training and be vigilant at all times to do this work safely. At the present time, you have replacement workers who have received eight hours of online training and who are not even able to circulate safely in port areas. Figure that one out!” explained CUPE union representative Nina Laflamme.
“Is it going to take a disaster such as the one in Lebanon to resolve the longshore worker lockout? Are we dealing with company executives and political representatives who couldn’t care when it comes to the safety and lives of others? One thing is clear – heavy pressure should be brought to bear on QSL international to resolve the conflict, “she added.
A significant number of accidents have been reported since the lockout began. “The risks are real and tangible,” said Laflamme.
As we approach the one-year mark of the lockout that occurred on September 15, 2022, the union is demanding that the Société des arrimeurs du Québec concentrate on what is important to put an end to this conflict. The union deplores the fact that the employer is still sticking with demands involving unmanageable work schedules, claiming that they are vital to the industry, which was doing very well before the conflict began.