This week, casino workers from several Quebec casinos have gone out on strike, ahead of the busy Formula 1 Grand Prix weekend in Montreal. CSN, which represents the staff said around 1,700 of its members walked off the job at Montreal, Gatineau, Mont-Tremblant and Charlevoix casinos, including staff of Loto-Québec’s online casino platform, Espacejeux.
The protesting workers demand better wages to reflect on the rising cost of living in the country. However, the employer, argued that it has already made two generous offers to the union in the last several months. But the labour union said that those proposals have been the same since the end of this February, which is contradicting with the other side’s statement.
Union Wants to Continue Negotiations
In a recent press release, the labour union cited the Crown corporation’s latest report which was allegedly the employer’s “best year ever.” It also pointed out that the Crown’s Executive Vice-President, Kevin G. Taylor, saw his yearly salary go from CA$375,461 to CA$504,498. The union is outraged with the employer who refused to bump salaries while recording high profits.
Meanwhile, the President of security workers at Casino Montreal, Riccardo Scopelleti shared that the negotiations have been in progress for over a year. He said workers want to resume negotiations while also noting that the employer has had record profits for 17 years now. Mr. Scopelleti labelled the current situation as unwillingness to increase wages as deplorable.
In response, the Crow agency said that it was disappointed to see the union launch a strike instead of resuming the discussions. It noted that negotiations for the normative and monetary components were done in December. The Crown also stated that the union’s demands are more than double what was given to all the other employees in the last year.
Mr. Scopelleti said CSN wants a wage increase equivalent to the rising cost of living plus one dollar per hour. He added that the working conditions were affected by the unprecedented situation and were difficult. He reminded that the workers have gone through three closures of casinos, and are still short-staffed, while some departments are still closed.
In the meantime, the casinos will remain operational during the Grand Prix, but some of their amenities may be partial. Its online gaming platform will also be up and running but the call centre will be down. The Crown said the Mont-Tremblant Casino closed due to the strike but it is now running, while the Trois-Rivières and Quebec City gaming halls remain unaffected.
Professional Staff Already Agreed to New Deal
Last year, Loto-Québec also had to deal with protesting professional staff members. However, in September, it was reported that the staff accepted a new collective agreement as 96% of the unionized employees voted in favour of it. A few days later, the 455 workers returned to their positions allowing the Crown to resume normal operations and debut the new Lotto 6/49.
Source: “Casino workers in Quebec launch strike on eve of Grand Prix weekend” CBC News, June 15, 2023