At least one more week of strikes at the ferry

Quebec City (Quebec) 25 October 2015 – Québec is running out of patience, but not enough to enact a special law to suspend strikes at the Société des Traversiers du Québec (the Québec ferries public corporation).

10 days ago, the government launched a warning that its patience had limits. The same words were repeated on Friday.

The President of the Conseil du trésor, Martin Coiteux, asks that the Metallos union behind the strike to minimize “the impact of [their] leverage on the daily lives of citizens, workers and families who are currently being held hostage”.

M. Coiteux insists that his government recognizes the right to strike. “That being said, the Government was expecting more compassion to the people on the union’s part […] This is not something that will change the position of the government on the subject,” he said.

“The government has heard the cry of the citizens taken hostage, but is saddened that the Metallos union has not listened,” he said, hoping that the negotiations are progressing and are conducted in good faith.

Québec has no intention of interfering with the process of the Labour Relations Commission, to whom the municipalities have asked for an increase in essential services during rush hours.

Québec “will follow the progress and the next step will determine the actions that will be needed,” adds Martin Coiteux who insists that “next week will be decisive.”

For his part, CAQ spokesperson Donald Martel says that a special law is needed in order to restore ferry services during rush hours.

“M. Coiteux said the union vote is disappointing. I think Québécois believe that M. Coiteux is the one who disappoints today[…] M. Coiteux has shown a great softness” complains the Caquiste.

“We have proposed suspending the strike this week […] But he ignored this proposal, saying that he wanted to give the negotiations a chance. In my opinion, he is an admitting to failure. He lost his bet.”

Angered by the strike, Lévis mayor Gilles Lehouillier estimated that the population is entitled to maintain the Lévis-Québec cross at the very least during rush hours.

“The idea is not to remove all rights to strike in public services, but for this right to be applied with respect to the people,” argued the mayor.

Paul-Christian Nolin, spokesperson of Québec mayor Régis Labeaume, has said that he dislikes the fact that “the population has been taken hostage.” According to him, mayors are trying to “improve their strategy” and actions are to be taken in the coming days.

A meeting including nine of the eleven mayors of the cities affected by the strike is scheduled in Québec City on Tuesday.

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