Dealers at Canada’s Casino de Montreal went out on strike starting on Saturday after negotiations failed to produce an acceptable agreement. The venue’s poker room was temporarily closed. Other operations remain open as normal.
The strike started at 9 am Saturday. Workers marched from a metro station to the casino. A picket line was formed outside of the casino later in the day.
The strike follows two four-hour work stoppages last weekend. The strike is expected to continue until negotiations produce an acceptable agreement, the union said.
The casino is owned by Loto-Quebec, the provincial government’s gaming operator-regulator.
The union represents 521 dealers. The last labor agreement expired on March 31, 2020.
In a recent statement, Loto-Quebec said it was “disappointed” about the strike.
Operations at the Montreal casino will continue as normal and clients will have access,” the Loto-Quebec statement adds. “Gaming tables, restaurants, slot machines and shows are running as normal, while the poker lounge is closed.”
Tasks Lead to Injuries
A major concern raised by the union are injuries caused by work schedules and demands. The union claims half of the dealers are injured.
They must deal close to 10,000 cards in a single workday. Many work five to six days per week. Dealers have suffered tendinitis and other injuries, the union adds.
Jean-Pierre Proulx, a union adviser for the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), told the CBC, the job “requires long hours of standing.”
“Croupiers can distribute up to 10,000 cards in one day. The faster the game goes, the more money the casino makes.”
Also, concern over salary cuts for new employees is another priority. Dealers find they work shorter shifts six days a week, to get a 30-hour work week, the union said.
Loto-Quebec wants a 10 percent drop in salary for new workers. That would lower the hourly rate for starting employees from 18.40 to 17.44 in Canadian dollars, the union said. The union rejects the reduction.
In reviewing union demands, Loto-Quebec said Montreal Casino dealers want 30 minutes of paid break for each hour worked.
They would, therefore, spend more than 30 percent of their shift on paid break, which is unusual in the industry,” the Loto-Quebec statement added.
But the union counters workers are given a 15-minute break for each hour worked
Also, Loto-Quebec said starting salary for the dealers is 20 percent higher than what the relevant market pays.
The hourly salary can double given bonuses paid for working certain shifts and the tips collected from players, Loto-Quebec said.
In addition, terms proposed during negotiations were similar to what was accepted by CUPE at the other Loto-Quebec casinos, Loto-Quebec claims.
In February, the union accused Loto-Quebec of planning “hundreds of hidden layoffs” after it failed to recall all of the dealers who had been laid off during the pandemic. This was despite the lifting of coronavirus restrictions at the casino in February.
Situated on Notre Dame Island, Casino de Montreal is the largest casino in Canada
Operations at other Loto-Quebec casinos are not impacted by the strike.
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