VANCOUVER (Reuters) - Shipping though Montreal’s port, Canada’s second busiest, was halted for a second day on Tuesday, although mediated sessions to end the labor dispute are expected to resume later this week.
The courts granted the Montreal Port Authority a limited injunction on Tuesday, allowing work on infrastructure projects unrelated to the dispute between port employers and unionized longshoremen.
The Maritime Employers Association locked out the more than 800 workers on Monday, saying it was responding to “union pressure tactics”, such as a refusal to work overtime, which were slowing freight traffic.
The union, which denounced the lockout but nonetheless set up picket lines, said on Tuesday it was preparing a proposal to end the shutdown. The workers are represented by a unit of the Canadian Union of Public Employees.
Representatives of CUPE and the employer are scheduled to meet with a government-appointed mediator on Thursday and Friday, to hold negotiating sessions that had been tentatively scheduled before the lockout began.
The mediator has been trying to help the two sides reach a deal that would replace the contract that expired at the end of 2008, according to the union.
The sides are at odds over issues including seniority and pay guarantees.
The federal government has called for the dispute to be resolved quickly, but has not said if will attempt to legislate an end to the lockout. Labour Minister Lisa Raitt’s spokeswoman was unavailable for comment on Tuesday.
Montreal’s port, which handled more than 1.2 million containers with about 11.3 million tons of cargo last year, is a hub for goods being shipped to and from Eastern Canada and parts of the United States.
It also handled nearly 7.8 million tons of liquid bulk and 2.9 million tons of dry bulk last year. A separate grain terminal can receive bulk cargo by water during the dispute, but cannot ship by vessel.
Although the lockout has disrupted freight shipments in and out of Montreal, there are currently no vessels in the port requiring longshoremen, according to the Port Authority.
Montreal’s port normally receives an average of 7 vessels per day.
Both Canadian Pacific Railway and Canadian National Railway have stopped hauling container traffic to and from the port.
Reporting Allan Dowd; editing by Rob Wilson