Quebec construction unions shut down week-long wildcat strike by crane operators
30 June 2018
After days of menacing government threats and frantic appeals from the trade union top brass for an immediate halt to their job action, Quebec’s striking crane operators returned to work last Tuesday, ending a six-day wildcat strike.
The “illegal” strike began on June 14, when crane operators on the new Champlain Bridge project, which will link Montreal to the South Shore, walked off the job. By Monday, June 18, the strike had spread to building sites across Quebec, with some 1,500 crane operators participating. The workers were protesting against industry-backed changes to government labour regulations that slash the number of hours of training required to operate cranes, thereby threatening worker and public safety.
The crane operators’ days-long defiance of the government and the FTQ-Construction and Provincial Building Trades Council union bureaucrats is part of a growing movement of the working class in Canada and internationally. Workers are not only challenging the demands of employers and big business governments for austerity and concessions. They are increasingly doing so in open conflict with the rightwing, pro-employer union apparatuses.
The crane operators’ strike slowed and even paralyzed work at many of the province’s major construction projects, including the CHU mega-hospital in Québec and the Turcot Interchange project in Montreal.
The Quebec Liberal Government intervened aggressively against the strike, which it denounced as “irresponsible and unacceptable.” It threatened to prosecute strikers and endorsed repressive actions taken by the Quebec Construction Commission (QCC), the state agency that regulates the…