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Major construction strike looming in Quebec


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June 14, 2013 by STAFF REPORT

With contract talks at standstill, Quebec construction workers are threatening a general strike on Monday if a deal with employers is not reached.

According to a CBC report, unions representing more than 170,000 construction workers said the strike would include all major residential, industrial and roadwork sites in the province, including Montreal’s University Hospital Centre.

The contract between construction workers and their employers expired on May 1.

Yves Ouellet, general manager of FTQ Construction, an association of 17 unions that represents more than 70,000 construction workers, said he believes the workers demands are not unreasonable. “I can tell you [the demands are] not a lot and normally when you have an industry that is so important for the economy you sit down and you negotiate,” he said.

Construction workers are paid an average of $33.50 per hour in Quebec, but the union says they only work about 1,000 hours a year.

“$35,000 a year, that includes the one who earn the most and the less. So if it’s average do you think that $35,000 that we can say that we are the best in the world? No I don’t think so,” Ouellet told CTV, adding he is willing to negotiate around the clock to reach an agreement.

However, the Quebec Construction Association (ACQ) disagrees, saying the average construction worker earns just over $50,000 a year, and employers were willing to negotiate last autumn while the union was not.

The ACQ said it is not looking to impose 14-hour workdays or six-day weeks, but is asking for more flexibility from construction crews who should be willing to work an 8-hour shift starting as early as 5:30 a.m. or going as late as 7 p.m.


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