Back-to-Work Legislation Imposed on Construction Workers
All Out to Defend the Rights and Dignity of
Imposed on Construction Workers
Back-to-Work Legislation Imposed on Construction Workers
All Out to Defend the Rights and Dignity of Construction Workers!
In the early morning hours of May 30, the Quebec government adopted Bill 142, An Act to ensure the resumption of work in the construction industry and the settlement of disputes for the renewal of the collective agreements. The legislation criminalizes the just struggles of construction workers who had been on strike as of May 24, in defence of their rights. This is the sum total of the respect neo-liberal governments have towards workers who build the infrastructure, the schools, the homes and the commercial and industrial buildings. This is the second time in four years that the Quebec government has criminalized their just struggle. The Parti Québécois government resorted to such legislation in 2013.
Chantier politique vehemently denounces this most recent back-to-work legislation, which is one more in a long list of laws and specific measures which are most arbitrary and discriminatory against construction workers. This law deems workers guilty of "intimidation" whenever they defend their rights, makes wage increases non-retroactive, denies all employment security, excludes measures contained in the Act respecting occupational health and safety, and gives employers the opportunity to use scabs on the worksites.
Construction workers have taken up this round of collective bargaining with all the dignity and the fighting spirit that befits workers whose immense contribution to building Quebec must be met with a claim on the value they produce that they deem suitable in the form of wages, benefits and retirement conditions. Their demands are for stability in their work shifts and for strict rules with regard to their work hours and overtime wages. A large number of construction workers are young parents for whom extended and variable work schedules make it extremely difficult to accomplish the most basic of daily chores such as taking care of their children. They want to negotiate these conditions without being criminalized.
The thoroughly corrupt Liberal government, which acts in the service of the construction, mining and steel industry oligarchs, among others, does not recognize the dignity of construction workers nor that of labour in general. The legislation also serves to impose silence on the real working conditions of construction workers. This government claims to be upset about the fact that the construction sector represents 12 per cent of Quebec's GDP and that a strike in this sector represents millions in losses for the economy. The government and monopoly media only get upset and spout out numbers when it comes to attacking construction workers and denying them even the right to negotiate their conditions. But when workers are killed or injured on construction sites or get fired under any pretext, given that they have no employment security whatsoever, where are the government and media to even raise these problems?
This time around the Couillard government is planning to permanently render illegal the construction workers' struggle for their rights and to have a say and a control over their working conditions, as it did for municipal workers.
Premier Couillard said, "We must put an end to this process, which is unfortunately repeated time and again, whereby finally none of the parties seems interested or has a genuine will to strike a deal and therefore wait on the government to intervene in a conflict which is private.''
The Labour Minister Dominique Vien stated that the government wants to end "this attitude of waiting for back-to-work legislation with the expectation that what they desire will come through the bill."
This attack and the threat to permanently outlaw workers' right to defend their rights must not pass! The workers of Quebec and of Canada must denounce this criminalization of construction workers and make their voices heard to defend them. It is an attack against all workers. We must speak out forcefully and state that workers will not accept a situation whereby the producers of society's wealth cannot exercise their rights and whereby there is no equilibrium in the relations of production.
No to the criminalization of the construction workers' just struggle! All out in defence of the rights and dignity of construction workers!
For your information
Law Criminalizes Quebec
With respect to the construction industry, years ago the unions presented a concrete proposal on how representatives in prevention could intervene and demonstrated how health and safety performance improve when they do. Governments have turned a deaf ear to this because the health and safety of workers is seen as a cost to businesses and governments. In addition, everything is done to silence the voice of the workers on construction sites and at the workplace in general. Those who produce society's wealth are expected to produce it when they are permitted to and then vanish from the face of the earth if they get injured, treated merely as collateral damage without any relevance. This is unacceptable and workers are determined to change this state of affairs.
On April 28, on the occasion of the National Day of
Mourning to commemorate all those killed or injured on the job,
workers gathered outside the National Assembly to say that the
time for speeches of condolence is over and that that they hold
governments and companies accountable for what happens at the
workplace. They also demanded concrete action from those in
positions of power, whether in government, at the workplace or within
Solemn Memorial outside National Assembly, April 28, 2017
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