Crane strike: Couillard warns that there will be consequences

Prime Minister Philippe Couillard warned Friday that “there will be consequences” and that his government “would not compromise” on the illegal strike by crane operators for five days.
“Those who think that because there are elections coming up, the government could haggle some kind of solution out of the law. Remove this illusion from your mind, “said the Premier in a press scrum in Quebec City.

Its Minister of Transport, André Fortin, announced earlier that the government would send a notice to the crane operator to claim “any damage caused by their illegal strike.”

Minister Fortin deems “unacceptable” that crane operators have been deserting their yards for a week. Damages related to delays on construction sites will be claimed, he assured.

Asked about the impact of the strike on work at the Champlain Bridge, the press secretary of the federal Minister of Infrastructure, Amarjeet Sohi, said it was still “too early” to decide. In an e-mailed statement, Brook Simpson assured the minister that he was following the situation closely with his private partner.

The vast majority of crane operators defied the order of the Administrative Labor Tribunal, which ordered them to stop their illegal strike. They did not return to work on Friday morning, according to the Commission de la construction du Québec (CCQ).

On Thursday evening, the court granted the CCQ’s request for an interim order to stop the strike. According to the decision, the urgency to act is justified because “it is clear that construction sites are undergoing significant impacts in connection with this work stoppage”.

The union did not respond to the interview request from The Canadian Press.

CCQ and ACQ denounce strike

Mélanie Malenfant, spokesperson for the CCQ, said she “understood very well” the decision of the Quebec government.

“It also hurts taxpayers, because any delays on construction sites will likely result in costs that are important to the government,” she said in a telephone interview.

Guillaume Houle, spokesman for the Quebec Construction Association (ACQ), said his organization was inviting any contractor affected by these pressure tactics to file a complaint with the CCQ and to notify police authorities.

“It’s a shame, we would have liked the unions to participate more. We agree, FTQ-Construction, Inter, sent clear messages to crane operators to return to work. If the crane operators do not respect the instructions of the judge, of their union, they should face the appropriate reprimands, “he said.

The crane operators began a strike last Monday, in all the shipyards of Quebec. And the strike is illegal, since the collective agreement between employer associations and trade unions is in force until 2021. At the construction site of the new Champlain Bridge, which connects Montreal to the South Shore, the pressure tactics had even begun. last Thursday.

The dispute is rooted in the changes that were made to the training of crane operators on May 14th. The crane operators, discontented, claim that the changes will harm their own safety and that of the public.

Recourse to crane operators

According to labor lawyer Éric Thibaudeau, however, workers have several recourse before them to put forward their point of view.

“The unions filed an action in the Superior Court to declare the regulation [on training] that was adopted illegal or non-compliant. Let the courts do their job instead of trying an illegal strike, “he said in an interview.

Mr. Thibaudeau also suggests that crane operators could express their “right of refusal” if they feel a “real danger” under the Occupational Health and Safety Act – which has not yet been resolved. done, according to the lawyer.

According to him, it will be necessary to watch carefully what will happen on Tuesday.

“The order was made last night, rather late. Asking dozens, or hundreds, to come back to a construction site at that time for the next morning is a bit difficult to organize, “he added.

“I do not think we need to give too much weight to what is happening today. The real test will be Tuesday, “he said. With the National Holiday holiday, crane operators are expected to return to work on Tuesday.

Union pressure

In the middle of the evening, on Thursday, the FTQ-Construction relayed the decision of the court in a press release, in which it reminded “crane employees their obligation to offer immediately their normal and usual work”.

The union reiterated this call Friday, while asking the Quebec government to form an independent committee to study the regulation related to training.

“This new regulation has been adopted by interested parties. However, to study the impact of the new regulation on security, we need an outside perspective, hence the request to the government to form an independent committee or to entrust this mandate to a retired judge, “he said. she said in a statement sent late afternoon.

“The FTQ, which supports the claims of crane operators, asks them and the union to respect the order issued yesterday [Thursday] and provide their normal work,” she said.

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