Steelworkers’ strike appears imminent at Société ferroviaire et portuaire de Pointe-Noire (SFPPN)

United Steelworkers members in Quebec’s North Shore region vote 99.4% in favour of a strike mandate

SEPT-ÎLES, Quebec, April 12, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Facing unacceptable concession demands from their employer – the Société ferroviaire et portuaire de Pointe-Noire (SFPPN) – members of the Syndicat des Métallos/United Steelworkers union (USW) have voted by a 99.4% majority in favour of strike action, if necessary, in their efforts to negotiate a new collective agreement.

The members of USW Local 6254 work at SFPPN’s railway and port operations. They handle and unload iron ore shipped by rail over hundreds of kilometres from the Lac Bloom mine to a deep-water port in Sept-Îles.

The company’s demands for concessions from the workers are unnecessary and appear to be ideologically driven, said USW Local 6254 President Clément Gonthier.

“Given the economic situation and labour shortages, this is a time to improve working conditions, not to try to impose concessions,” Gonthier said.

“But the employer persists in demanding major changes to our seniority rights and our process for promotions, which runs counter to our collective agreement. This is purely ideological on the employer’s part,” he added.

Union members gave their bargaining committee the overwhelming strike mandate on Wednesday. A provincial conciliator assigned to assist in the negotiations was then informed of the vote results. Conciliation sessions are scheduled to resume during the week of April 22.

“We’re weighing our options,” said USW staff representative Marc Tremblay.

“One thing is certain: the members have delivered a very clear message with their rejection of the employer’s proposals. They’re ready to go on strike to counter these demands for concessions,” Tremblay said.

“We have a responsibility to the families of our 199 members, but we don’t sense the same commitment from the employer, who seems to be focused on only one thing – to gear up for a dispute.”

The USW/Syndicat des Métallos, affiliated with the Quebec Federation of Labour, is the largest private-sector union in Quebec, representing more than 60,000 workers in all sectors of the economy.

For further information: Clairandrée Cauchy, 514-774-4001,