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Container carrier diverts vessel as Port of Montreal labor strikes continue

Houston — German container carrier Hapag-Lloyd rerouted one of its ships as another strike by the Port of Montreal longshoremen's union threatened to further disrupt port operations.

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Hapag-Lloyd said it would divert the M.V. Detroit Express to the Port of Saint John, New Brunswick, for its expected arrival in Canada on Aug. 8, although its ship M.V. Toronto Express would maintain its call to Montreal Aug. 5.

The longshoremen's union began another strike on Aug. 3, which is set to last until early morning Aug. 7. The strike is targeting two container terminals at the port of Montreal belonging to the Tremont company.

The strike announcement came on the heels of another four-day strike last week, which was initiated after negotiations over working hours and wages stagnated.

A major retailer with a distribution center near the Port of Montreal said they were considering rerouting their container shipments to Halifax and moving them from there by truck or rail.

"The shipping industry is very competitive, and once you start rerouting supply you may not want to change it back," the retailer said. "The Port of Montreal is not like New York or Los Angeles where it can not be avoided."

The Port of Montreal had a throughput of 826,705 20-foot equivalent units (TEU's) in the first half of 2020, a 3.8% decrease from the same period last year. The Port of Montreal is Canada's second largest container port by volume.

The Platts Container Rate 9 -- UK Continent to East Coast North America -- has remained steady at $1,800/FEU through July into early August.