A few hours before a possible strike at the Port of Montreal, retail businesses held their breath on Sunday, they who have already been accumulating supply delays for two weeks because of the stevedores’ means of pressure.
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The latter, who load and unload ships docking in the metropolis, are now threatening to start an indefinite general strike at around 7 a.m. Monday, which could have even more consequences for retailers.
“If it lasts long, you will have to expect to see empty shelves. At the hardware store, when there is a shortage of stock, it is not the next day that we will receive it, it is in two weeks, ”illustrated Jean-François Belleau, director of government relations at the Canadian Council of Canada. retail business.
However, even in the worst-case scenario, the average consumer will not see a difference for most essential goods, which are produced in North America and therefore do not require transit through the Port of Montreal.
It is mainly with regard to European imports that a difference could be felt: furniture, certain foods, but especially wines and spirits.
“After one or two weeks, it is certain that there are products that will be out of stock, but we have reservations to deal with this kind of situation,” said Linda Bouchard, porte – speech of the Société des alcools du Québec.
Jean-François Belleau, on the other hand, doubts that this strike will have repercussions through increases in store costs.
According to him, the big retailers will not adjust their prices because of a situation experienced in Montreal; they will instead prefer to reorganize their supply chain to bypass the metropolis.
“In the end, the Port of Montreal will be the big loser. Once you create new roads, you don’t go back, ”insisted the director of government relations at the Retail Council of Canada.
Already, because of the pressure tactics in recent weeks and the threat of a strike that has been hovering since Friday, some retailers who have the means have started to plan other routes via other ports in North America, focusing on transport. train to reach Quebec.
“It’s a real headache,” however said Mr. Belleau, who hopes that the situation is resolved quickly and that Ottawa intervenes to bring the two parties together.
Early Sunday evening, the longshoremen’s union and the Maritime Employers Association (AEM) were still at the negotiating table.
It is not the wages of employees, but the question of working time that is stumbling.
Even if the indefinite strike is called Monday as anticipated, some sections of the port will continue to operate, such as those containing grain elevators and goods destined for Newfoundland.
Because the Port of Montreal is central to all of eastern Canada and the northeastern United States. According to AEM figures, it serves 110 million consumers and generates spinoffs of $ 13.4 billion.