Over 1,000 employees of Casino Montréal have voted in favour of a five-day strike mandate, potentially targeting the busy Formula 1 Grand Prix weekend. The union aims to accelerate negotiations, focusing on wage increases for its members. Meanwhile, Loto-Québec, the casino operator, has expressed its commitment to maintaining normal operations.
It should be mentioned that the Formula 1 Gilles-Villeneuve race on Île Notre-Dame is a major attraction for tourists in Montreal during the summer. This year’s edition will be held from June 16 through June 18, 2023. The casino is also located on the island and it is expected that the weekend will be quite busy for the gaming property.
Majority Vote for a Strike
Over the weekend, the CSN-affiliated union representing casino workers issued a statement confirming that members voted 91% in favour of a five-day strike. It remains to be seen when the strike will be started, but Loto-Québec is worried that the protest could arrive during the Montreal Grand Prix which is usually a busy weekend for the casino on the island.
The labour union could use the race as a negotiation tactic to speed up the negotiations with the employer, which have been in motion since June 2022. The two parties cannot agree on wages, as staff are looking for increases that represent the equivalent of the rise in the cost of living plus CA$1 per hour, to protect purchasing power and improve attraction and retention.
Shortly after the issuance of the statement, the Crown Corporation, which runs the casino, also provided a response. It said it will be looking to ensure that day-to-day operations at the property remain as usual during the pressure tactics. It also said that it already proposed two generous offers which address the requirements of the staff members.
In addition to that, workers at the Casino de Gatineau and Jeux en ligne have also voted on a similar five-day strike mandate, while staff at the Charlevoix and Mont-Tremblant casinos will vote on this in the coming days. According to the union, those affected in the contract negotiations work in customer service, catering and security at the casinos, while dealers are not included.
Dealers Already Signed New Contract
In the summer of last year, Loto-Québec saw dealers from Casino Montréal going out on strike. Croupiers are represented Canadian Union of Public Employees and in May 2022 some of the members went out to protest to show their support for the bargaining committee which at the time was unable to find an agreement with the employer on a suitable offer for the employees.
Then in August 2022, CUPE announced that a tentative agreement with the Crown corporation has been reached. Advisor for the union, Jean-Pierre Proulx, that the union and the management negotiating committees are both pleased with the new agreement and are also quite confident that workers will find it reasonable when the time comes to vote on it, which they later did.
Source: “Montreal casino workers threaten to strike during busy Grand Prix season” CTV News Montreal, June 3, 2023