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Quebec’s Construction Sector Hit by Mass Walkout

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The Canadian Press

MONTREAL – A union alliance representing about 175,000 Quebec construction workers has launched an unlimited general strike.

The walkout began after construction companies and labour federations continued to negotiate ahead of a strike deadline of midnight Tuesday, but were unable to sign new collective agreements.

Work schedules and overtime are believed to be at the heart of the conflict in the industrial sector, while salaries are the main stumbling block in the residential sector.

Michel Trepanier, a spokesman for the union alliance, says a strike was the only option left.

Labour Minister Dominique Vien said Tuesday that the provincial government was looking at bringing in back-to-work legislation in the event of a strike, saying a walkout could mean losses of $45 million a day for the Quebec economy.

Employer groups have said the province's anti-strikebreaker law does not apply to the 175,000 construction workers, meaning some sites would be able to stay open if workers showed they wanted to stay on the job during the labour conflict.

This is the second general strike in the Quebec construction industry in four years. All construction sectors are out of work and pickets have been installed at the entrance to several construction sites.

The collective agreements expired April 30.

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