Port of Montreal – Update on MEA’s Essential Services Request

blog | Mar 20, 2024

Further to our previous notice, a federal tribunal on March 14, 2023, determined that Montreal port employers cannot require employees to work during a strike.  

The Maritime Employers Association (MEA), representing port businesses in labour talks, filed an essential services request last year with the Canada Industrial Relations Board (CIRB) to permit some work at the port in the event of a strike or lockout. Under the Canada Labour Code, the CIRB can require work to continue during a stoppage if it is deemed necessary to “prevent an immediate and serious danger to the safety or health of the public.”  

While the CIRB considered the application, the request to deem port work an essential service was rejected, even though the labour agreement expired on December 31, 2023. 

This ruling officially ends the freeze period that prevented job action by the port employers’ association or the local workers’ union. The decision could set the stage for another strike at the Port of Montreal. 

The MEA has reiterated that its priority is to reach a negotiated collective agreement as soon as possible.  

While uncertainties persist at the Port of Montreal, Delmar International will reroute all East Coast Montreal bound cargo via Halifax to limit any negative impact of a potential work stoppage until further notice. 

Delmar will continue to monitor the situation and provide regular updates and additional solutions if needed as events unfold.  


For additional information and assistance, please contact your local Delmar Representative.