Casino employees unhappy with their working conditions continue their strikes, as on Thursday, September 7, 2023, they protested in Montreal. Represented by the CSN union, staff claim the negotiations between the union and the employer, Loto-Québec, have stalled. Workers insist on better working conditions due to the increasing cost of living in Quebec.
Unionized employees from several casinos in the province first went out on a five-day strike during the Formula 1 Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal in June. After they voted in favour of an indefinite general strike as the employer refused to meet their demands. Some of their requests include an additional CA$1 per hour of work.
Protests Continue Into This Week
Picket lines continued on Thursday as workers claim that negotiations between the Crown and the union have hit a roadblock. One of the protesting staff members, Constantinos Alexiou, commented that life is getting more and more expensive and some workers have trouble making ends meet. That is why employees demand proper salaries, he clarified.
Approximately 1,700 unionized employees from four Quebec casinos, including the Montreal one and the Crown's online gaming platform Espacejeux have been on the picket lines since June. However, the employer argued that salaries are competitive. But the union noted current figures are out of date in today's competitive labour market, and that it is willing to negotiate.
Mr. Alexiou shared that the employees are ready to negotiate, and explained that the boss has been providing 2.5% per year for five years, but it is also requesting newcomers to take a hit of 10%. He also explained that staffers demand salaries matching the increasing cost of living and want to be able to not get poor year after year.
Protesting workers urge locals not to buy lottery, despite being quite appealing to win big from it. They are also calling for individuals to try to abstain from going into one of the casinos, and even try to limit their online gaming activities, as a pressure tactic to the corporation. Overall, the unionized employees advise people not to play at all and avoid gambling at all costs.
Loto-Québec's Last Statement
In the middle of August 2023, Loto-Québec issued a statement to address the current situation regarding the protests at its casinos. It claimed that it has offered a number of possible solutions to address the union's concerns. However, according to the Crown company, those terms were declined by the union in just two days of negotiations.
Furthermore, the employer observed that at the start the union demanded more than double what was given to all of the Crown agency's other employees in 2022. It stated that despite the progress since then, the gap between union demands and the latest offer is still very large. It noted that the seven other collective agreements from 2022 were well-received by all parties in the same job classification.
Source: “Striking Montreal Casino workers demand more from Loto-Québec” City News Everywhere, September 7, 2023