June 27, 2018 by The Canadian Press
MONTREAL—Thousands of crane operators returned to work June 26 after taking part in what authorities described as an illegal strike that lasted one week and disrupted construction sites across Quebec.
Crane operators were protesting new training requirements allowing workers to operate the machines without first obtaining a vocational diploma.
Their union says the new program is less comprehensive and could lead to a rise in workplace accidents.
Quebec’s construction commission, which enforces laws governing the industry, says the training program is the result of consultations with crane operators as well as the agency that oversees workplace safety, which supports the changes.
The commission called the strike illegal because it is against the law for employees to strike while a collective agreement is in force.
Work resumed at various sites after a senior union official published a letter late Monday calling on crane operators to cease all work slowdowns or strike actions.
Evans Dupuis noted in his letter the union was not abandoning its demands, especially those relating to the health, safety and integrity of workers and the public.
Labour Minister Dominique Vien said the Quebec government would meet union representatives in order to discuss the new training progam and added an independent committee would be created to study the safety concerns raised by workers.
The consequences of the illegal strike for workers and union representatives are still unclear as they are both subject to hefty fines for the one-week work stoppage.