·  USW@Work magazine, Spring 2022

Health and safety struggle continues in Quebec

A large crowd of people carrying blue Métallos flags and three wooden crosses protest behind a barricade outside the Quebec National Assembly.Quebec Steelworkers are mobilizing to resist the harmful effects of regressive health and safety legislation passed by the right-wing Coalition Avenir Québec (CAQ) government. Last year, USW-led mobilization efforts resulted in massive opposition to the CAQ’s legislation from the labour movement, opposition political parties and groups defending the
rights of non-union workers. The government rammed through the corporate-friendly law nevertheless.

Steelworkers are now involved in a joint labour-employer working committee created to recommend temporary standards in some areas of the legislation before the law’s rollbacks take full effect.

“We’re going to work hard to ensure that the minimum requirements that existed in the former Act are restored in the new regulations,” said Julie Hébert, the USW’s Health, Safety and Environment Co-ordinator in Quebec, and one of four union representatives on the provincial working committee.

Another USW priority is to support local unions in strengthening health and safety language in their collective agreements, to override the potentially harmful effects of weakened provincial legislation.

“The Act no longer provides as much protection as we had, so we have to go back to the basics and establish real, joint prevention programs, one agreement at a time,” said Dominic Lemieux, Steelworkers Quebec Director.

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