May 27, 2017
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Montreal, Canada – Some 175,000 construction workers in Quebec went on strike May 24, shutting down projects across the province such as the new Champlain Bridge.
Workers marched May 25 in seven cities including Montreal, Quebec City, and Sherbrooke. Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said he was prepared to enact a law that would force them back on the job, but that he wasn’t yet ready to call an emergency session of the National Assembly to do that. Daniel Boyer, president of the Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (Quebec Federation of Working Men and Women) said May 24 that such legislation would erode the union’s bargaining rights, and alleged that industry leaders were pressuring the government to pass it. The walkout is the second general strike by Quebecois building-trades workers since 2013. Key issues include scheduling, salaries, overtime pay, and work-family balance. “We have a right to our lives, to see our kids and be with our families,” Yves, a highway-repair worker who did not want to give his last name, told the Montreal Gazette. “My company is good, they wouldn’t punish a guy for saying no to extra work. But not every company respects its workers, and that’s what the union is for.” Read more