Quebec wild-cat strikes lead to possible class action

Construction companies say union should be responsible for lost revenue

Quebec’s largest construction union may be facing a class-action lawsuit as a result of wild-cat strikes held at construction sites across the province in October.

Two companies, Turenne Bricks and Stones and Magloire Gosselin Masonry, have sought permission to file a class-action lawsuit against the Fédération des travailleurs du Québec (FTQ). The lawsuit can only go to trial if certified by a judge.

Members of the FTQ and the Conseil provincial du Québec des métiers de la construction (CPQMCI) walked off the job in October to protest Bill 33. If passed, the Bill will end the practice of construction unions deciding who may work on construction projects in Quebec. Instead, the Construction Commission of Quebec (CCQ) would be in charge of hiring workers for the province’s worksites.

Turenne Bricks and Stones and Magloire Gosselin Masonry say that as a result of the job action, they lost thousands of dollars because they had no choice but to shut down work sites. They claim the job action was a deliberate act as thousands of members walked of the job at the same time at over 200 worksites across the province.

FTQ-Construction president Michel Arsenault has said that he was in France the weekend prior so it would have been impossible for him to organize the job action.

Lawyer Benoît Gamache is leading the lawsuit and says he believes the FTQ should pay up to $30 million in damages to workers and companies who were affected by October’s wild-cat strikes.

"When you totally take as hostage the whole construction industry, it's going to be not that complicated to justify that kind of amount," Gamache told CBC News.

The FTQ has not yet filed a legal response to the claim.

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