Employers and unions are at odds on the issues of mobility of construction workers, versatility of trades and training, as part of the consultations currently being conducted by the Minister of Labor, Jean Boulet.
The minister must present his reform of the construction industry this fall and, in this context, he is currently consulting stakeholders in the sector.
Some are calling for more versatility on the part of workers, more interregional mobility and training which can be shortened in certain cases, while others are opposed to it, for reasons of quality of work, competence of workers, health and safety and the possibility for construction workers to work in their respective region.
In an interview on Monday, the president of CSD-Construction, Carl Dufour, who represents 25,000 workers in the industry, argued that relaxing the rules that currently govern the mobility of construction workers between regions risks “killing the regions “.
Currently, certain rules mean that a contractor who lands a contract in a region other than his own can take with him some of his usual workers, but he must also employ a certain number of workers who reside in that region.
“Are we going to play on labor mobility to kill the regions? We’re really having trouble with that. The regions are important to us, like all places in Quebec. But there, if we want to play in mobility… We had rules there which were still very easy to respect. But it seems like we want to open the door even more to go play everywhere. We are afraid that we will kill the regions,” said Mr. Dufour.
But for Francis Montmigny, advisor to the labor relations department at the Association of Construction and Housing Professionals of Quebec (APCHQ), we must facilitate interregional mobility of workers “to liberate and build better, build faster and in a more sustainable way.
On the union side, Mr. Dufour also criticizes Quebec for wanting to reduce the number of training hours for certain trades, including those of carpenter, tinsmith, construction equipment driver and refrigeration.
This could pose problems with the quality of training, in addition to posing risks to the health and safety of workers and the public, deplores Mr. Dufour.
Mr. Montmigny, at APCHQ, believes that “we are able to combine perhaps reduced training in certain non-risk trades, hence the idea of working with finishing trades”, such as painter, tiler, flexible covering installer, plasterer or carpenter, he argues.
“It is a real priority for us to have task sharing in terms of finishing tasks,” insists Mr. Montmigny, who speaks for the residential sector.
While the FTQ-Construction, which represents 90,000 industry workers, decided last week to withdraw from these consultations, accusing the minister of “going it alone” and not listening to worker representatives, the CSD -Construction has chosen to continue to participate.
“We are for social dialogue; we don’t like an empty chair,” explained Mr. Dufour. But the two trade union organizations in the industry have the same complaints about the reform.
Mr. Dufour also criticizes the Minister of Labor for following “an order from the Prime Minister who is not capable of making his electoral promises”, by better planning work in schools, housing, hospitals, seniors’ homes, roads.
“As a client, he gives everything at the same time. And there, there is a shortage of people and he is trying to resolve that on the backs of the workers,” denounces Mr. Dufour.