Union Finally Reaches Agreement with Loto-Québec After Months of Strikes

On August 12, after almost three months of strike action from croupiers at Casino de Montréal, which is operated by Loto-Québec, The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE), representing the casino dealers, succeeded in reaching a satisfactory labor agreement in principle with Loto-Québec.  

Casino Dealers Have Been Striking Since May

Casino de Montréal dealers have been on strike since May 21, 2022, but it has been much longer since they are not covered by a collective agreement. Their common labor contracts expired on April 1, 2020, but the challenges for the casino industry brought by the pandemic stalled any negotiations until 2022.

Even when negotiations eventually started there was not much progress towards a resolution so Casino de Montréal dealers were forced to commence industrial action. They have been protesting against the poor working conditions in the casino and the low pay they get considering the rising costs of living.

Among their demands were paid breaks of 30 minutes for each working hour. Loto-Québec of course opposed this stating that it would mean employees will spend 30% of their working hours on a break, something that will be in stark contrast with common industry practices.

Despite the continuous strike action activities at the Casino de Montréal continued without much disruption.

The Stall in Labor Agreement Negotiations That Led to Strikes

Since the start of the attempts to reach a new agreement, the arguments have been going back and forth between CUPE and Loto-Québec. Casino de Montréal dealers asked for more breaks during working hours as their repetitive work of dealing about 10,000 cards on a daily basis has caused injuries. A lot of the casino employees having performed such work for many years complain of suffering from various muscular and skeletal disorders with tendinitis being the condition that is cited most often. Loto-Québec’s blatant answer to this was that it has not noted any increase in employee injuries.   

The other point of argument was of course salaries. CUPE harshly criticized Loto-Québec for its payment policy. The Casino de Montréal operator offers new employees just 90% of the base salary, which effectively means a pay cut. Loto-Québec’s answer was that the casino already pays employees 20% more than the average wage for new recruits in the sector. CUPE countered that by accusing Loto-Québec of having taken a course of downgrading hourly payments from $18.40 to $17.44 per hour.

Satisfactory Agreement

After almost three months of strikes, CUPE and Loto-Québec finally reached an agreement in principle. Jean-Pierre Proulx, who is CUPE’s union adviser, commented that the negotiating committees of the union are satisfied with the new labor contract. However, CUPE could not reveal any details from the new agreement as it must be approved by union members first in order for it to be finalized. This will take place during a general meeting of the union that will be held in the upcoming weeks.

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