Quebec national assembly recalled to end construction strike

Premier Marois has called back the national assembly from its summer recess to table special legislation forcing striking construction workers back to work.

Striking unions, employers final stab at settlement fails

Quebec construction workers remain off the job for the thirteenth day of striking, but they could soon be forced back to work. (Radio-Canada)

Members of Quebec's national assembly will take a break from their summer recess today to debate special legislation aimed at ending a two-week-old construction strike.

The Quebec construction association (ACQ) and the construction unions failed in their last-ditch bid to reach a settlement with the help of a government-appointed mediator on Saturday evening.

Earlier on Saturday, Quebec Premier Pauline Marois said she would call back the national assembly from its summer recess to table the special law on Sunday.

"It is clear that the people at the negotiating table are no longer able to make any progress," said Quebec's Labour Minister Agnès Maltais, in a brief statement to reporters Saturday morning.

But Maltais said a negotiated settlement would still be preferable to back-to-work legislation.

Marois, who was on a trade mission in Mexico, took time out of her schedule to speak to the media.

"The mediator remains available so that the parties can continue discussions," she said. "But for the moment … I will now proceed with the adoption of a special law with members of the national assembly."

The national assembly will begin its special sitting at 9:45 a.m. A statement released by the government said the intent is to have all workers back on the job by Tuesday morning.

Construction association says no choice

Late Friday, the ACQ sent a letter to the premier, urging the government to proceed with back-to-work legislation.

CBC’s French service, Radio-Canada, obtained a letter sent from ACQ president Jean Pouliot, asking Marois to adopt a special law.

According to Radio-Canada, Pouliot stated there was a lack of progress, despite a special mediator appointed by the government on Monday.  Pouliot said the inflexibility of the existing contract is hurting Quebec's economic development.

Last Monday, Premier Pauline Marois said the government would reluctantly intervene with back-to-work legislation if mediation efforts failed.

Close to 80,000 construction workers in the commercial, industrial and institutional sector remain off the job.

The striking employees include those involved in both the Université de Montréal and McGill University Health Centres' superhospital projects.