Over 1,000 Montreal casino employees have recently launched a five-day strike to speed pay discussions with their employer, Loto-Québec, which will begin in June 2022. The casino employees, including customer service, catering, and security professionals, have intentionally timed the strike less than two weeks before the highly anticipated Formula One race event in order to put pressure on management.
The Strike Announcement Establishes the Scene
Employees gathered around a CSN union branch declared that 91 percent of union members (excluding croupiers, who have their own union) voted in favor of a five-day march. Notably, the strike time has been scheduled to coincide with the build-up to the Montreal Grand Prix.
The Importance of the Grand Prix Weekend
The Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix is a world-renowned event conducted on Île Notre-Dame’s Gilles-Villeneuve circuit. Montreal, the famous race’s host city, is home to the prominent casino, and the province is looking forward to greeting a large number of tourists and racing aficionados during this legendary event, which will take place from June 16 to 18.
Salary Expectations Take Centre Stage
The importance of the Canadian Grand Prix is well understood by the union members who represent casino personnel. They aim to use the racing time to pursue their negotiations with Loto-Québec about wage hikes that will ensure their sustained commitment to work.
Wages are the main source of dispute between casino staff and management. Union members want pay rises that are equal to “the rise in the cost of living plus $1 per hour.” These raises are viewed as necessary to protect employees’ purchasing power, boost retention rates, and attract new hires.
The Consequences of Discord
A strike over one of Montreal’s busiest summer weekends would undoubtedly have a significant impact on the casino’s operations. In response to the announcement, Loto-Québec has stated that its casinos around the province will continue to operate properly, despite the union’s insistence.
According to management, it has already made “two comprehensive and generous monetary offers” that appropriately address concerns about staff attraction, retention, and the current economic context.
Growing Popularity of the Strike
Employees from other casinos in the province, including Casino de Gatineau and Jeux en ligne, have also expressed their desire to participate in the five-day strike in a show of support. Furthermore, employees at the casinos in Charlevoix and Mont-Tremblant are likely to vote on the strike mandate in the coming days, worsening the issue even further.
A Test of Wills
Customer service, catering, and security professions at casinos are all in high demand. Inspired by the success of the croupiers’ union negotiations, which resulted in an agreement last August, these employees are ready to fight their boss until the end. With time running out, a deal could be struck just before the start of the Grand Prix.
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