Montreal cemetery in lockout considers trailer to preserve bodies

An lockout at Montreal's Notre-Dame-des-Neiges Cemetery may force management to store bodies in a refrigerated trailer.

A labour dispute at Montreal's Notre-Dame-des-Neiges-Cemetery may force management to store bodies in a refrigerated trailer.

There haven't been any burials or cremations at the famous cemetery since mid-May, when unionized maintenance workers were locked out after contract negotiations over work conditions and pension issues ended without a new agreement.

The cemetery is running out of storage space and may have to resort to a climate-controlled trailer if the situation isn't resolved, said Guy Dufort, the cemetery's chief negotiator and spokesperson.

"We want to make sure that the process [is] dignified and respectful, and also that the families would agree to it," he told CBC News.

If bodies continue to come in at the current rate, storage facilities will be full by fall, Dufort said.

The union representing maintenance workers said the cemetery is trying to force an agreement by talking about its contingency plans if burials continue to be postponed, said spokesman Daniel Maillet.

But workers are ready to stand by their demands for better job security.

"You know, when people have nothing to lose, they can stand a lot."

Most of the cemetery's maintenance workers are seasonal employees.

Representatives for the cemeteryare notwilling to return to the negotiating table until the union shows more flexibility, Dufort said.