Adil Boukind Archives Le Devoir FAE union members during a previous demonstration in front of Radio-Canada headquarters in Montreal
Several dozen union members of the Autonomous Federation of Education (FAE), on an indefinite general strike since November 23, blocked an entrance to the port of Montreal on Thursday morning to denounce the slowness of negotiations with the Treasury Board. A similar action took place at the port of Quebec, where strikers gathered on Henri-Bourassa Boulevard.
These demonstrations were held the day after the union's rejection of the most recent offer from the Quebec state.
Waving flags in the colors of the FAE, the strikers began to block the main entrance to the Port of Montreal, at the intersection of Boucherville and Notre-Dame streets, near Highway 25, shortly before 6 a.m. A long line of trucks subsequently formed on Notre-Dame Street, and several of their drivers did not hesitate to honk their horns in support of the strikers.
Protesters began to disperse towards the end of rush hour, marching on Rue Notre-Dame, which runs along the port.
The Montreal Port Authority announced that the strikers’ outrage had had “a significant impact” on its activities. “Approximately 25% of trucks, or between 500 and 800, were unable to come and do their transactions this morning,” she said, according to an estimate based on average daily traffic. “We will have to adjust logistics accordingly throughout the day in order to catch up,” she added.
In an interview on Radio-Canada radio, the president of the FAE, Mélanie Hubert, explained that union members were gradually increasing their pressure tactics and were now opting for “economic targets which will perhaps speak to the government more than others targets that we have taken in the past.”
“The only language that the government seems to understand is the language of money”, had previously argued the vice-president for political life of the FAE, Patrick Bydal, when questioned about the reasons having incited the strikers to target the port of Montreal.
Mélanie Hubert reiterates that the striking teachers still aim to obtain a new employment contract before the holidays, even if she agrees that “it will be difficult” given the pace of the negotiations, “not sustained enough at the moment”. The FAE is ready to negotiate during the holiday period, added Ms. Hubert, deploring that the Legault government has “let the conflict drag on for so long.”
A rally in support of education workers is planned for Friday in front of the Montreal offices of Prime Minister François Legault. Several artistic personalities, including Vincent Bolduc, Catherine Ethier, Simon Boulerice, Étienne Marcoux, Hubert Proulx, Sophie Cadieux and Steve Gagnon, have confirmed their presence.
With The Canadian Press