June 21, 2013 by STAFF REPORT
After meeting with Quebec Labour Minister Agnès Maltais on Thursday, both the Quebec Construction Association and unions representing Quebec construction workers have agreed to get back to the negotiating table.
On Monday, more than 175,000 construction workers across the province of Quebec walked off the job, shutting down all residential, commercial and industrial worksites.
Quebec Premier Pauline Marois said if the two sides are not able to reach a deal soon, it could lead to back-to-work legislation. “We’re not going to allow the situation to continue for a long time,” she told Montreal’s 98.5 FM in an interview. “We’re interested in settling this quickly.”
Yves Ouellet, head of the construction wing of the Quebec Federation of Labour, is confident a deal can be struck to avoid forcing union members back to work—as long as both sides make concessions. “We know that we can achieve an agreement,” said Ouellet. “We have something to offer.”
CBC reported that unions are looking for a 3 per cent salary increase in the first year of a contract, followed by a 2.75 per cent increase in each of the next two years.
Lafarge Canada Inc. recently released a statement saying it is disappointed that the situation escalated into a full-blown strike across Quebec’s construction sector.
“The effect this strike has on our economy and our entire industry, which is so critical to maintaining a strong Quebec, is significant and has an impact every single day on our employees and our customers,” the statement said.
“We encourage all parties to maintain an open and transparent dialogue, leading to a quick resolution and agreement, so we can return to building better cities and communities across Quebec.”