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''Working conditions from the 80s that no longer fit in 2022'' is the slogan used by the dockers, who denounce working hours that make work-family balance impossible. They deplore the instability of their schedule: they work only on call and must ask permission from their employer to have time off, sometimes even after 20 consecutive days of work.
The 81 dockers of the Port of Quebec voted 98.5% for pressure tactics that could go as far as a strike, which they had not yet called before the Société des arrimeurs de Québec locked them out on September 15.
The employer wishes to force 12-hour shifts in order to alleviate the labour shortage. However, the president of the union of dockers of Quebec, Stéphane Arsenault, deplores the deterioration of working conditions which affects the retention of the workforce.
''Easily 60% of new hires leave. Every time they leave, they say they're not able to organize anything with their family''.
Although it is not part of their demands for the next collective agreement, Simon (fictional name), docker at the Port for more than 20 years, also shares his concerns for the safety and health of employees due to exposure to chemicals from the companies they stow for, such as Glencore. Having recently battled cancer, he notes that many of his colleagues receive a similar diagnosis during their careers.
According to the Port of Quebec website, it is among the 5 largest ports in Canada, with an average of nearly 30 million tonnes handled per year, generating $1.3 billion in economic spinoffs in Canada. The QSL company continues to grow with more than 60 marine terminals in Canada and the United States. The dockers wonder about the reasons pushing the employer to slow down the improvement of working conditions and to lay off its employees despite their so crucial role for the economy and the financial capacities of the company.