Today marks the 500th day that members of the union representing Quebec longshore workers have been locked out. On September 15, 2022, the Société des arrimeurs de Québec, SAQ, locked out the 81 longshore workers, who no longer wanted to work weekly schedules of 76 hours and over.
The port is continuing its normal operations because the employer is using replacement workers, which is illegal for companies under provincial jurisdiction. However, federal anti-scab legislation is now in the process of being tabled thanks in part to the effort of longshore workers at the Port of Quebec.
“Unfortunately, we’re not the first ones to pay the price due to this legislative void, but we hope to be among the last ones so affected. Using replacement workers is unacceptable, irresponsible and deplorable! It draws out conflicts needlessly, and it’s morally intolerable in our province,” said CUPE representative Nina Laflamme.
The parties have been in talks since June 2022. Discussions have bogged down mainly on the issue of work schedules. Members want to safeguard their life-work balance.
“The maritime industry must get with the times! In 2024, we think it’s only legitimate to demand stable and predictable schedules to allow for family life,” added Laflamme.
Increased risks of accidents
The use of replacement workers also increases the risks of accidents at the port. There have been several incidents that have already cost the employer tens of millions of dollars.
“The lack of duly trained workers has caused a great deal of damage. We’re lucky that this has only resulted in material damage to date and that there have not been any injuries or even worse,” added Laflamme.