General Strike at the Port of Montreal

Canadian trade hit major delays when the Port of Montreal on Canada’s east coast experienced a general strike a few weeks ago. The strike which began on Monday April 26 was ended by the Canadian Government less than a week later, on Saturday May 1, 2021. It disrupted a large number of exported vehicles that Techlantic was shipping to Europe and the Middle East.  The Port of Montreal is the second largest port in Canada and is an essential contributor to Canadian trade and impacts all car exporters that ship to destinations outside of Asia. Business leaders urged the government to intervene as the strike disrupted supply chains, already in turmoil from the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are about 1,150 longshoremen at the Port of Montreal that have been without a collective agreement or contract since 2018. This strike was the second walkout in less than a year and shut down cargo operations at Canada’s second-busiest port.  The last strike also impacted a large number of shipped vehicles and took approximately 2 months to fully recover and get the exported cars back to a regular schedule.  Several vehicles were rerouted by truck to be exported from Halifax.  In Halifax there are some more shipping options including RORO (“Roll On Roll Off” instead of loading the vehicle in a container and loading onto a container ship for export) shipping to several major international ports, but it came at additional costs for trucking and was the cause of several delays. The labour stoppage created congestion at other ports as well, as companies struggled to reroute their cargo, creating bottlenecks at key points of entry for Canadian businesses. On the west coast, many containers have been grounded or rerouted which caused a huge disruption for vehicle export from Canada.

This most recent strike may not be the last as the workers’ contract is still not settled and their union is challenging the law that sent them back to work, fighting for their fundamental rights. Currently the vehicle exporters we work with closely are all navigating the delays to minimize the impact to the vehicle importers and vehicle dealers in Europe and the Middle East who purchased vehicles that were subject to delays. Luckily, this strike was short, and the backlog and congestion is not near what it was in 2018. As a result, shipments should be back on regular schedules by the end of May 2021. If you have any concerns or questions about how your cars being exported from Canada may be affected, please contact sales@Techlantic.com for more information.