Unions propose Canadian construction workers’ alliance

Group would ensure Canadians hired before call is put out to foreigners
|labour-reporter.com|Last Updated: 06/13/2012

The Canadian Construction Unions Council (CCUC) will be the largest group of construction-sector workers in the country if it’s approved by members of the two unions proposing it.

FTQ-Construction and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP) say the new organization will allow recruitment of 80,000 members across Canada in periods of labour shortages to promote mobility and subsequently increase job stability.

“Activity in the Canadian construction industry labour market is keeping a good pace, but each province or territory will continue to experience slowdown periods,” FTQ-Construction President Arnold Guérin said in a statement. “That is why, in order to counter the effect of labour shortages, the two labour organizations want to offer greater mobility to their members and thus contribute to full-time employment.”

Leadership from both unions approved the proposal, but it has yet to be given the green light by members. If that happens, the new entity would then begin its activities in the coming months, said FTQ-Construction General Manager Yves Ouellet.

“It will be easier for our members to work anywhere in Canada during slack periods,” said Ouellet. “This increases job security, which in turn allows (workers) to maintain a better quality of life by protecting earned income.”

Part of the CUCC’s mandate will be to ensure Canadian workers are hired for large construction projects before the call is put out for foreign workers, Ouellet said.

FTQ-Construction already has a reciprocity agreement allowing it to send workers to western Canada, particularly Alberta, where demand for labour is high — along with wages.

Between July 2006 and December 2010, Quebec construction workers working in Alberta brought over $100 million back to Quebec through their income taxes and related spending, Ouellet said.

It was the success of that agreement helped build the current proposal, he said.

The CCUC will be the first Canada-wide construction union organization with no ties to the United States, according to the CEP.

“CEP is proud to join with FTQ-Construction to improve working conditions within the construction industry throughout Canada,” CEP National President Dave Coles said.

FTQ-Construction is an association of 17 unions representing more than 70,000 workers. The CEP represents more than 120,000 Canadian workers in various industries.

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