Over 1,700 Casino Workers in Québec Will Strike During the Grand Prix Weekend, Asking for Higher Salaries

Over 1,700 Casino Workers in Québec Will Strike During the Grand Prix Weekend, Asking for Higher SalariesCasino workers at the Montreal, Gatineau, Mont-Tremblant, Charlevoix, and Espacejeux casinos have launched a strike ahead of the start of the Formula 1 Montreal Grand Prix. At the heart of the dispute are the wages of the casino employees at the Loto-Québec-owned Montreal Casino. The union, which represents casino workers in Québec, the Confederation of National Trade Unions (CSN), claims that over 1,700 employees have joined the strike, making up over 90% of the CSN’s members.

Representatives from Loto-Québec said they have already made two generous offers to the union over the past few months. The company also made it clear that it would not succumb to the pressure of the workers. The CSN responded that the last offer was made at the end of February, and has not changed since then. The casino workers ask for higher salaries that reflect the rising costs of living plus another CA$1 (US$0.75) an hour.

Riccardo Scopelleti, the president of security workers at the Montreal Casino, said that the casino workers have been in negotiations over their salaries for already a year, but no agreement has been reached so far. Scopelleti noted that Covid-19 severely affected the working conditions, but there was no improvement even after the pandemic. He added that some departments remained closed after the pandemic, and the shortage of staff makes the situation even more strained.

The CSN issued a statement in which it announced that Loto-Québec’s profits have dramatically increased over the last 17 years. The union revealed that Lotto-Québec’s latest annual report was described as “the best ever”. The statement also notes that the yearly salary of Kevin G. Taylor, the company’s executive vice president, has increased from $375,461 to $504,498. And despite the company’s record-high profits, it has refused to review casino workers’ salaries.

The Labor Dispute Continues with No Prospect of Resolution

Earlier this month, the union had given the green light to a five-day strike. And the most appropriate moment for it is the Grand Prix event, which attracts over 130k tourists. The union has announced that employees from almost all departments except the croupiers, who have a separate union contract with the casino, will participate in the strike.

In a statement, Loto-Québec said it would be better if the CSN continued with the negotiations instead of launching a strike. The company also noted that discussions regarding the normative and monetary components of the collective agreement were wrapped up in December. Loto-Québec also explained that the value of the casino workers’ demands is significantly higher than what was given to other employees within the organization over the past year.

Loto-Québec has announced that the casinos affected by the strike will stay open during the Grand Prix weekend, but some services might be limited. The online site will also function, but the call center will be off-duty. The Mont-Tremblant Casino had to cease operations temporarily due to the strike but has quickly reopened.