After being on strike for over 6 weeks, Quebec’s Labour Minister, Lise Thériault, has made the decision to call upon a mediator to attempt to resolve the ongoing labour dispute between the directorate of the Construction Commission of Quebec (CCQ) and its unionized workers (see here for an article on the topic).
As you may recall, on June 5th, 600 employees of the CCQ, members of the Canadian Office and Professional Employees Union (COPE, SEPB in French), went on strike. The conflict largely surrounds cuts in their pension plan and a reduction in payroll.
Employees of the CCQ have been without a contract since December 2009. Negotiations surrounding the renewal of a collective agreement have remained stagnant. The CCQ’s final contract offer was rejected by 86% of the COPE’s members and the CCQ rejected the collective agreement proposed by a conciliator, despite being approved by the Treasury board. Simultaneously, the COPE voted in favor of a strike.
In a complaint made to the Commission des Relations de Travail (CRT), the union accused the CCQ of negotiating in bad faith and thus violating section 12 of the Labour Code (see here for the decision). In a more recent decision rendered by the CRT, the CCQ was found guilty of violating section 109.1 g) of the Quebec Labour Code (see here for the decision), which states:
109.1. For the duration of a strike declared in accordance with this Code or a lock-out, every employer is prohibited from
(g) utilizing, in an establishment where a strike or lock-out has been declared, the services of an employee he employs in the establishment to discharge the duties of an employee who is a member of the bargaining unit on strike or locked out.
As the conflict progressed with no conceivable agreement in sight, Mr. Serge Cadieux, executive director of the COPE, urged the Labour Minister to intervene in the case by appointing a mediator. A mediator is there to formulate recommendations to the parties, without imposing a binding solution.
In the hopes of opening up dialogue, the Labour Minister has now designated former Deputy Minister of Labour, Mr. Normand Gauthier, as special mediator to the case. Both parties to the dispute have expressed their contentment with the nomination.
Parties are hopeful that a settlement will be reached before the construction holiday begins on July 22nd.
In collaboration with Melanie Josepovici, student at Norton Rose Canada LLP