Quebec Steelworkers Join Marathon Labour Demonstration Against Bill 59

QUEBEC CITY – Quebec Steelworkers have joined a 59-hour vigil at the National Assembly in Quebec City to oppose Bill 59, legislation that will cut longstanding workplace health and safety protections.

Workers from across Quebec have converged on the provincial capital for the marathon demonstration against Bill 59, which began yesterday. The Steelworkers delegation includes some 150 members from ArcelorMittal operations in the North Shore region, where 2,500 workers are currently on strike.

"Bill 59 will lead to major setbacks in health and safety prevention in our workplaces and cuts in compensation for injured workers,” said Dominic Lemieux, Quebec Director of the Syndicat des Métallos/United Steelworkers.

“If this legislation is adopted, protections currently provided in the law will no longer be available and unions will have to negotiate new provisions in collective agreements to compensate for the weakening of our laws,” Lemieux noted.

“This is disastrous for non-unionized workers, who have no such recourse, and is a threat to labour relations as it will increase the risk of labour disputes over issues that were previously settled in law,” he added.

The USW members on strike at ArcelorMittal fear that Bill 59 will weaken health and safety in their workplace, which already leaves much to be desired.

“We have to wear personal respiratory protection equipment to work at the concentrator because the employer has not completed work needed to reduce risks. Imagine if the law becomes less demanding of companies; it will have an even-greater, regressive domino effect," said Karine Sénéchal, President of Steelworkers Local 5778, representing ArcelorMittal workers at the Mount Wright mine in Fermont.

The 2,500 workers of ArcelorMittal operations in Fermont and Port-Cartier have been on strike since May 10.

“Steelworkers are showing that distance is not a barrier to solidarity. Community and labour solidarity is built through the people who live and work in our communities," Lemieux said.

The Syndicat des Métallos/United Steelworkers, affiliated with the Quebec Federation of Labour, is the largest private-sector union in Quebec, representing more than 60,000 workers in all economic sectors.


For further information:

Clairandrée Cauchy, 514-774-4001, ccauchy@metallos.ca

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