The issues for Loto-Québec continue as employees of four casinos continue their strike. On Friday, June 23, 2023, staff members of casinos in Montreal, Mont-Tremblant, Charlevoix and Gatineau went out on an unlimited general strike. The shift from a five-day strike to a general one was decided by workers in a vote held on Thursday.
Unionized employees from the casinos across Quebec first went out on a five-day strike during the Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal. The walkout impacted sectors such as catering, security and maintenance services. Staff members demand better salaries, as they want to be rewarded an increase in wages to match the equivalent of the rising cost of living.
Now Out on a General Strike
Riccardo Scopelleti, president of the Casino de Montréal-CSN security workers, said the dispute has hit a roadblock. Meanwhile, Loto-Québec assured that despite the ongoing strike consisting of over 1,700 employees Casino du Lac-Leamy, the Trois-Rivières gaming hall and the Quebec City gaming hall remain up and running as usual.
However, the employer explained that casinos in Montreal, Charlevoix and Mont-Tremblant are now working under a modified schedule specific to each facility, while some of their amenities may be limited. Also, the strike does not include croupiers at the Montreal, Charlevoix and Lac-Leamy sites. Lotoquebec.com is also online but its call centre has been suspended.
The union wants wage increases equivalent to the rise in the cost of living, plus $1 per hour. It argued that the Crown corporation is making good returns and that its staff should also benefit from it. It pointed out that Loto-Québec management bagged over CA$650,000 in bonuses in 2023 and that it is insulting to deny union members wage increases.
Recently, the Crown published its annual fiscal report for 2022-2023. It reported casino and gaming hall revenue of CA$1.101 billion or a CA$444 million increase over the prior fiscal year. Meanwhile, online casino revenue spiked by CA$4.6 million for a total of CA$269.9 million. VLTs, Kinzo, and network bingo accounted for CA$922.2 million in revenue which was an increase of CA$362 million,
In response to that, the employer claimed that it offers good working conditions and that casino wages exceed those of the reference market by about 20 percent for most job categories. In addition to that, the Crown agency remarked that the value of the union’s latest demands is more than double what the corporation has rewarded other employees in the previous year.
Professional Staff Already Signed New Deal
Loto-Québec granted a fresh collective agreement to its professional staff, who had voiced their concerns and protests in September. With overwhelming support, as 96% of the unionized employees voted in favour, the professionals accepted the new collective contract. Consequently, the 455 workers resumed their positions, enabling the Crown corporation to restore regular operations and introduce the new Lotto 6/49.
Source: “Quebec casino workers vote for an unlimited general strike” Montreal Gazette, June 23, 2023