Casino Workers Vote for Unlimited Strike in Montreal over Fair Compensation
The workers are taking this action due to the ongoing dispute with Loto-Québec management over fair compensation. In a decisive move, casino workers in Montreal, Mont-Tremblant, Charlevoix, and Gatineau have voted in favor of an unlimited general strike.
Riccardo Scopelleti, president of the Casino de Montréal-CSN security workers’ unit, announced that the negotiations with the employer had reached an impasse, as reported by the Montreal Gazette. The workers are demanding wage increases that reflect the rising cost of living, along with an additional CAD1 ($0.76) per hour. They argue that Loto-Québec, along with the Société des casinos, is generating significant profits, and therefore, the employees deserve their fair share.
The union has expressed its frustration with Loto-Québec management, particularly regarding the distribution of bonuses. According to the union, management has allocated $650,000 in bonuses this year, which they find to be insulting while denying workers the raises they deserve to keep pace with inflation.
However, Loto-Québec has expressed confusion over the union’s decision to initiate an indefinite strike. The company claims that all the necessary elements for reaching an agreement are already in place. They maintain that they offer favorable working conditions, with casino wages exceeding those of the reference market by approximately 20% for most job categories. Loto-Québec also highlights that the union’s current demands far exceed what other employees in the organization have received in the past year.
The strike will impact around 1,700 employees, leading to modified schedules and limited services at the Montreal, Charlevoix, and Mont-Tremblant casinos. The Casino du Lac-Leamy, Trois-Rivières gaming hall, and Quebec City gaming hall, however, will remain open as usual, as stated by Loto-Québec in a recent announcement. The strike will not affect the croupiers at the Montreal, Charlevoix, and Lac-Leamy casinos, and the lotoquebec.com website will remain accessible. However, the call center will not be operational during the strike.
Stéphanie Gratton, interim president of the Fédération des employées et employés du secteur public-(CSN), dismissed Loto-Québec’s claims about good working conditions and competitive wages. She said she believes that the union’s demands are justified and necessary for the well-being of the workers.
Loto-Québec hopes to resume discussions with the union and the conciliator in order to reach a fair settlement that respects the responsible management of public funds.
Just last year, Loto-Québec was in trouble with the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) representing casino dealers at Casino de Montréal. Following three months of strike action, CUPE reached a satisfactory labor agreement in principle with Loto-Québec, addressing concerns over working conditions and wages.
At the same time, Loto-Québec reported its best financial performance since the implementation of the Tobacco Control Act, with revenue of CAD2.225 billion ($1.61 billion) and net income of CAD1.204 billion ($872 million) for the third quarter of the fiscal year 2022-2023, marking a significant increase and allowing for higher dividends to the government and benefits for Quebec residents.