The Construction division of the Quebec Federation of Labor (FTQ) and the Quebec Council of Construction Trades organized simultaneous protests that mobilized several thousand more in eight other regions of Quebec. Actions also took place in Ottawa, Ontario, in front of Canada’s parliament and in Tracadie, New Brunswick.
Under Bill C-38, unemployed workers are divided into three categories based on how often they have received jobless insurance over a five-year period, making seasonal workers a primary target. Some workers would be required to accept jobs at 80 percent of their previous wages immediately, and at 70 percent after seven weeks. Workers would also be required to look for work within a radius of 100 kilometers (62 miles).
“They want to make us work for less money, and then penalize us if we go back to our jobs,” said Mariette Boucher, a school bus driver and member of Teamsters Local 106.
A week before the demonstration Bernard Drainville, a member of the Quebec government, had revealed that some 50 inspectors would be sent to the homes of 1,200 workers the government suspects of “fraudulently” receiving benefits. “Hunting season on the unemployed is open” read one placard at the Montreal demonstration.
Most participants in the action were construction workers. Others included members of the Canadian Auto Workers and United Food and Commercial Workers, as well as school bus drivers, crossing guards and film industry workers.
“It’s going to take demonstrations in all the cities, and not just here, but across Canada,” Jean William, a member of Heavy Equipment Workers Union Local 791, told the Militant.
Rally backs ILWU fight against lockout in Wash.
Quebec steelworkers score victory after 5-month fight
Locked-out sugar workers in North Dakota get jobless pay
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