The Quebec government could step in and halt a massive strike by more than 175,000 construction workers in the province that has virtually brought construction to a standstill.
And that move may come sooner than later, with Premier Pauline Marois saying she is against the strike lasting more than two weeks.
“If in two weeks there is no agreement, we will have to take more drastic measures,” she said. “But honestly, it’s not what we want.”
Construction accounts for 14 per cent of the province’s GDP, according to the government, so a protracted strike could cause significant damage to the economy.
One option that appears to be on the table is the extension of the working conditions of the last collective agreement for a period of one year — or until a new agreement can be worked out.
Negotiations broke down last weekend with the unions that form the Alliance syndicale de la construction. Workers in the commercial, residential and industrial sectors walked off the job in a legal strike position at midnight on Saturday.
According to union spokesman Yves Ouellet, the monetary offers had been for a one-per-cent increase with retroactive pay. The union is seeking a three per cent boost in year one, and 2.75 per cent in the following two years of a three-year deal.
Overtime is also a friction point, according to a Canadian Press article which stated the Quebec construction association wants to reduce overtime from double time to time and one-half.