About 350 card dealers from Gatineau's Lac-Leamy Casino are in Laval Monday to discuss where to take negotiations with the provincial lottery board, effectively a one-day strike forcing management to fill in.
The unions representing dealers there and another 700 to 750 in Montreal said they've been working without a contract since March 2013.
Patrick Desjardins, vice-president of Lac-Leamy's SCFP 3993, said they're unhappy with how long negotiations are taking and some of the corporation's proposals, including those affecting their 70 to 80 casual dealers who fill in for others.
"Right now (casual employees are) allowed one hour to call back for a shift, obviously they're not allowed to refuse a shift because they're casual," he said as union members boarded buses across the street from the casino.
"Management wants to cut that down to 15 minutes, which is basically holding them hostage in their own house."
"We could be in the shower, we could be doing something else not near our phone, but if we don't call back in the 15 minutes we may get disciplinary measures. If we don't call back enough times we could be fired for nothing," said Guillaume Demers, a casual dealer who's been working at Lac-Leamy for a little over a year.
Desjardins said other issues for Lac-Leamy include giving employees the ability to switch shifts with coworkers instead of taking a vacation day, as is allowed in Montreal.
They're also looking for a two per cent wage increase per year, which is on par with raises given to other casino unions in Quebec.
While Loto Quebec didn't respond to requests for a phone interview, spokesperson Jean-Pierre Roy told Radio-Canada his organization doesn't understand why the unions would hold this one-day strike before scheduled mediation sessions start Tuesday.
Desjardins said this one-day walk-out is "step 10" of a 12-step escalation of "pressure tactics" to show their displeasure with negotiations, with one of the items on Monday's agenda a discussion about what they should do next.
"12 of 12 would be the ultimate one but we still have to decide on dates, times and exactly what should happen at what time," he said.
Lac-Leamy's dealers are set to return at 8 a.m. Tuesday.