Quebec premier urges crane operators back to work as ‘illegal’ strike continues
By The Canadian Press
MONTREAL – Premier Philippe Couillard warned Quebec’s crane operators Tuesday there will be consequences for what he called an illegal strike, as construction sites were paralyzed across the province for a second consecutive day.
The premier said workers who refuse to return to their jobs could face penalties from the province’s construction commission.
“In a society of laws there are consequences for holding an illegal strike – consequences for individuals, consequences for organizations,” Couillard said in Quebec City. “It’s Quebec’s construction commission that oversees that, they have the power to act and I believe they will act.”
Crane workers are protesting changes to training requirements that will permit people without a vocational diploma to obtain an operator’s certificate.
The union representing operators says the new program is less thorough and could lead to a rise in workplace accidents.
Couillard said he was open to a discussion regarding workers’ safety concerns but he urged operators to get back on the job.
Striking workers emerged from a closed-door meeting Tuesday in Montreal and refused to say what they had discussed or whether the strike would continue.
Construction sites across the province have been disrupted since Monday after many of Quebec’s 2,000 crane operators walked off the job.
Operators working on the city’s replacement bridge connecting Montreal with its south shore have been striking since last week.
Quebec’s construction commission has said the strike is illegal because it violates the workers’ collective agreements.