Chantier Politique

May 29, 2016

English Edition, No. 14

General strike of Quebec Construction workers

All Out to Support Quebec Construction Workers!


General strike of Quebec Construction workers
All Out to Support Quebec Construction Workers!
Oppose Government Back-to-Work Legislation
State-Organized Attacks on Construction Workers


General strike of Quebec Construction workers

All Out to Support Quebec Construction Workers!

At midnight, on May 24, 175,000 construction workers in Quebec launched a general strike against unacceptable concessionary demands from organizations representing construction employers. Workers in all sectors are on strike: industrial, institutional, commercial, civil engineering, highway maintenance and residential sectors. The five construction unions grouped for negotiating purposes within the Construction Union Alliance are the FTQ-Construction, the Quebec  Provincial Building Trades Council (International), the CSN-Construction, the CSD-Construction and the Quebec Construction Union.

The main issue that forced construction workers to go on strike to defend their rights is the unacceptable demand of employers' organizations to disrupt existing work schedules. Employers' organizations want workers to work according to a loose schedule without strict rules applicable to all, a demand already rejected in 2013, when construction workers went on strike in defence of their rights.

Employers' organizations want workers available from 5 am to 8 pm five days a week. In the event of working days lost due to bad weather, they want workers to work on Saturday at straight time to replace the lost days. The extended loose timeframe for workers to be available on demand would allow employers able to decide at will the time of a shift greatly disrupting workers' lives.

Workers immediately denounced the retrogressive scheduling measure. They pointed out that construction work must have strict rules for working time including overtime, as anything less is a fraud. Construction workers do not have job security and can be dismissed, not called back or refused work on the next site, if they do not "behave" and work at assigned times even if the time is voluntary such as Saturday work to replace lost time.

Workers strongly reject this unacceptable arbitrary demand from employers' organizations that disrupts rest and their lives away from the worksite. They argue that construction workers need to be rested and alert at all times to combat the already high accident and mortality rates in their sector. Workers view loose and voluntary rules around work time as an irresponsible provocation by the employers' organizations, which should be denounced as retrogressive and an attack on their dignity and rights. Construction workers know full well that concessions on basic issues such as wages and working time just whet the appetite of the oligarchs who immediately come back for more.

Construction workers said No! in 2013 to disrupting their lives and work schedules. No! still means No! in 2017!

Chantier politique stands firm with Quebec's construction workers and calls on all workers to provide them with all possible support!



Quebec City




Montreal


 Gatineau and Baie-Comeau


Sept-Îles


Saguenay


Trois-Rivières


Sherbrooke


Val-d’Or


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Oppose Government Back-to-Work Legislation


The government of Philippe Couillard has declared its intention to criminalize construction workers and force them to end their strike. The working class and its allies throughout Quebec and Canada soundly denounce the Liberal government as a flunkey of the construction oligarchs that is unfit to govern.

Such an unjust action would be a repeat of 2013, when the Quebec government criminalized the right of construction workers to strike in defence of their working and living conditions. The Couillard government and its servile accomplices in the mass media stand opposed to the right of workers to negotiate their terms of employment and withhold their capacity to work until equilibrium acceptable to themselves can be found. This is a basic right of workers who are compelled by the current relations of production to negotiate the terms of the sale of their capacity to work to employers. The fact that a strike disrupts the economy and the creation of value is testament to the essential nature of the modern working class and its position as the actual producer of the value the people and society need for their existence.

Instead of upholding the rights of the working class and giving it the respect it deserves, the government, construction oligarchs and monopoly media are on a warpath to criminalize construction workers and attack them. They are using the fact that the construction workers and their industry are central to Quebec's economy to attack the strike and order workers back to work or face state-sanctioned penalties. The working class and its allies across Quebec and Canada denounce this state-organized assault on rights.

Denounce the Liberal Government for Attacking the Right to Strike!
Hands Off Construction Workers!
Their Cause Is Just!
Stand with the Quebec Construction Workers in Their Just Struggle!

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State-Organized Attacks on Construction Workers

The construction sector accounts for 12 per cent of Quebec's GDP and 255,600 direct jobs, one out every 20, as well as thousands more in related sectors. The government and monopolized media do not use those facts to show respect for workers who produce such immense value for society. In the most self-serving manner in favour of the construction oligarchs, they are uusing the essential role played by construction workers in modern life as a reason to attack their right to defend themselves and to negotiate working conditions and a claim on the value they produce acceptable to them.

The government and monopolized media are using the importance of the construction sector to generate hysteria and an urgency to end the strike not on terms acceptable to workers but on terms the construction oligarchs demand. This must not pass!

Already, construction workers face special conditions regarding Quebec's labour laws that trample on their rights. For example, they are not entitled to wage increases retroactive to the date the collective agreement expired. Their collective agreement expired on April 30, and any wage increase they receive will not apply until the new collective agreement comes into force.

The "anti-scab" law does not apply to construction workers, which means employers' organizations have free rein to keep work sites open during the strike using scab replacement workers. When workers intervene to close any sites using scabs, they can be charged with "intimidation" and even violence if they resist organized attacks on them by hired security guards and mercenaries.

The special clause in the law prohibiting construction workers from engaging in "intimidation" is very broad. The clause applies only to them and not to the employers and any actions on their part. The charge of intimidation can be used to attack workers who encourage fellow construction workers to refuse dangerous work, deal with other problems at the workplace or take action to defend their strike. The use of the charge of "intimidation" against workers is an attack on their right to conscience and their right to organize fellow workers in collective actions with analysis. The monopolized media often use the broad charge of intimidation to portray workers as criminals when they organize themselves to defend their rights.

These state-organized attacks must stop!

(Photos: Chantier politique, Quebec Provincial Trades Council (International), CSD-Construction, CSN-Construction, Syndicat québécois de la construction (SQC), Le Lac St-Jean, EstriePlus)

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