SALABERRY-DE-VALLEYFIELD, Que. – A Ministry of Labour investigation of the CEZinc refinery has found the company in violation of Quebec’s anti-scab law in the midst of a labour dispute at the plant southwest of Montreal.
The United Steelworkers (USW), which represents 370 employees on strike at CEZinc, will use every means at its disposal to ensure the company respects Quebec law prohibiting the use of replacement workers and that it is held accountable for its actions.
Following an inspection of the CEZinc refinery on Feb. 27, Quebec’s labour ministry found the company was illegally using at least three replacement workers at the plant. However, the USW believes the company has been using an even greater number of replacement workers, in violation of Quebec law.
“We believe there are many more strikebreakers than what the Ministry of Labour inspector uncovered during the inspection,” said USW staff representative Luc Julien.
“It’s unacceptable. We have gathered considerable evidence of work being performed illegally by strikebreakers and our lawyers continue to work on this case. We will be bringing this file to the authorities in coming days to demand that this company respect our labour laws.”
The labour ministry inspection confirmed what the union already knew, said Manon Castonguay, President of USW Local 6486.
“We knew it was impossible for the employer to operate the plant without resorting to the illegal use of replacement workers. All the information we’ve been receiving from inside the plant has indicated as much. We are continuing to gather incriminating information showing the employer is clearly violating the law,” Castonguay said.
The 370 USW members at the CEZinc refinery have been on strike since Feb. 12. The dispute revolves around company demands for concessions, in particular an attack on workers’ pensions, even though the pension plan is overfunded.
The USW has called out the company for refusing to explore cost-cutting alternatives proposed by the union.
The Syndicat des Métallos/United Steelworkers is the largest private-sector union in Quebec, representing 60,000 workers in all sectors of the economy.
For further information:
Clairandrée Cauchy, Syndicat des Métallos/United Steelworkers Communications, 514-774-4001, firstname.lastname@example.org