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Montreal, Tuesday, November 14, 2000 After failing to receive any formal retraction and in the absence of duly laid charges against its members, the Montreal Port Longshore Workers Union affiliated with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE-QFL) is initiating legal proceedings today for redress following recent allegations by the two police forces of collusion between dockers and organized crime after a hashish shipment was seized in the port.

Statements with far-reaching consequences

Although the existence of a Complaints Commission at the federal level means that the proceedings undertaken against the RCMP are not the same as those initiated against the Montreal Urban Community police, the SPCUM, the outcome we are seeking is the same: to clear our members reputation, unjustly smeared by the irresponsible statements made by spokespersons for the two police forces.

These people should be setting the example and carefully weighing the repercussions of their statements, which have far-reaching consequences not only for the longshore workers, but also for their families and friends, said CUPE Local 375 president Michel Murray.

No retractions so far

When the RCMPs spokespersons claim that the dockers are infiltrated by organized crime, or that 15% of dockers have serious judicial records, some serious explanations are called for, to say the least.

When the SPCUM implies that longshore workers hampered seizures, it should at least substantiate what it is saying, something that it has never done. We formally and publicly demanded retractions from both police forces on October 21. Since there has been no response, we are now instigating legal proceedings, added Mr. Murray.

A duty to defend union members

Our role as a union must not be limited to negotiating collective agreements and filing grievances. We have a duty to defend longshore workers against what is clearly a smear campaign orchestrated by certain police forces. We all know that when it comes to catching public attention, any event involving dockers will sell papers or boost ratings, to use the media jargon. But rest assured that we wont let these police forces get away with the tactic of saying anything they like about us. We are determined to obtain justice, concluded Michel Murray.

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Michel Murray, (514) 255-8868
Louis Cauchy, (514) 384-9681, ext. 270

opeiu 491/mlb