In the upcoming weeks, the bustling casinos in Montreal, Canada, face the potential threat of a strike coinciding with the Formula 1 Montreal Grand Prix due to a wage dispute. This highly anticipated event not only draws race enthusiasts but also attracts a staggering 132,000 tourists over three days, many of whom frequent the local casinos.
Montreal casino employees rally for fair wages
At the heart of the issue is a wage dispute at the Montreal Casino, the largest casino in Canada and owned by Loto-Québec. Tensions are reaching a boiling point, and the Confederation of National Trade Unions (CSN) is prepared to escalate the situation if necessary. In a display of solidarity, other venues are lending their support to the cause.
According to the Canadian Press, an overwhelming 91% of CSN members have expressed their willingness to engage in a potential five-day strike. This means that approximately 1,000 employees of the Montreal Casino could walk off the job during the weekend of the Montreal Grand Prix from June 16 to 18.
While the strike is not confined to the race weekend, the union has stated that it will take action at the most opportune moment. Given the timing, it seems likely that the F1 event would be the most suitable occasion.
The CSN and its members aim to intensify the pressure on the casino by involving various departments, such as cashiers, slot machine attendants, housekeeping, and other general service employees. However, croupiers, who have their own union contract following a strike last year, will not be participating.
In a show of solidarity, workers from other casinos could also join the strike. Employees of the Casino du Lac-Leamy have already authorized a similar strike, while those at the Charlevoix and Mont-Tremblant casinos are expected to make their decision this week.
The duration of the strike during the Canadian Grand Prix has yet to be determined. It will depend on the progress of negotiations now that the strike has been approved. Riccardo Scopelleti, president of the Montreal Casino’s security workers’ unit and spokesperson for all nine unions, expressed confidence that the mere threat of a strike might be sufficient. He stated that Casino Montreal would be unable to maintain its operations with an insufficient number of employees in the event of a strike.
Negotiations over wages for the employees have been ongoing since June of last year, and they have been without a contract since March 31 of the same year. The CSN, representing nearly 1,700 different job categories in the province’s four casinos and online gaming activity, holds significant power to disrupt operations if necessary.
The workers involved in the wage dispute are seeking a salary that reflects the cost of living, with an additional CA$1 (US$0.75) per hour. Despite seven meetings between the parties since February, no progress has been made, as stated by Scopelleti.
Loto-Québec, however, refutes the claim of no progress. The company asserts that it has presented two comprehensive and generous compensation packages and remains steadfast in its position, stating that the “pressure tactics” employed will not sway its decisions.
While such tactics have proven effective in the croupiers’ strike last year and in other locations like Las Vegas and Mississippi, it is worth noting that although Loto-Québec is a state-run company, it may need to consider its position as a commercial enterprise in light of the situation.
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