Workers at Casino de Montréal are threatening to strike during a crucial time in the Formula 1 racing season.
On June 3, some 1,000 workers at the largest Quebec casino issued a five-day strike mandate, citing wage increases as their primary objective.
Right now, the current indication is that the five-day window may very well coincide with the upcoming Montréal Grand Prix.
The Formula 1 Gilles-Villeneuve race on Île Notre-Dame, where the casino is also located, is a considerable summer tourist attraction for the city. This year’s edition of the 70-lap showdown will take place June 16 – 18.
Overwhelming majority of Casino de Montréal workers in favour of strike
In a statement, the CSN-affiliated union representing the employees said 91% of members voted in favour of a five-day strike. For now, the group has been coy about an exact initiation date, revealing only that it will come “at the appropriate time.”
For this reason, Loto-Québec, the casino operator, is concerned that the protest will arrive during the Montréal Grand Prix.
Perhaps the union’s intentional vagueness is just a tactic to expedite negotiations with Loto-Québec. It’s plausible considering talks between the two sides have been in motion since June 2022.
As is stands, the parties are still unable to agree on wages. Staff members are vying for increases that reflect the rise in cost of living, plus $1 per hour, to “protect purchasing power and improve attraction and retention.”
Soon after the union’s statement went live, Loto-Québec released a response. In it, the Crown Corporation ensured day-to-day operations will continue as normal despite the pressure tactics. Further, the company argued that it already presented “two comprehensive and generous monetary offers,” which adequately addressed the “major issues of attraction, retention and the economic context.”
Employees at other Quebec casinos follow alongside
While Casino de Montréal may be the province’s largest — and the largest casino in Canada — it’s not the only one with employees holding out.
Workers at Casino de Gatineau and Jeux en ligne have also voted in favour of a similar five-day strike mandate. Moreover, staff at Charlevoix and Mont-Tremblant will cast their votes in the coming days.
According to the union, those affected in the contract negotiations work in customer service, catering and security.
Notably, croupiers (dealers) are not involved in the current deal because they are represented by a different union.
In similar fashion, the croupiers also went on strike last summer before eventually reaching an agreement with Loto-Québec in August.