Quebec premier amplifies threat to outlaw 175,000-strong construction strike

by Keith Jones, WSWS

On the second day of a strike by 175,000 Quebec construction workers that has shut down hundreds of building sites across Canada’s second most populous province, thousands of workers took to the streets to highlight their opposition to the construction bosses’ sweeping concession demands.

While the workers were marching Thursday morning, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard announced his Liberal government will illegalize the strike if workers are not back on the job by Monday morning.

“We can’t let the economy bleed $45 million each day,” declared Couillard from Israel, where he is on a trade mission to promote Bombardier and other Quebec-based businesses. “I have asked the government to be ready to act Monday.”

Already last week Couillard signaled he would move rapidly to outlaw a building workers’ strike, saying his government would not “remain arms folded” while a “vital part” of Quebec’s economy was paralyzed.

Among the largest worker job-actions in North America in years, the Quebec construction strike has angered and unnerved the Canadian ruling elite.

Quebec’s largest employer group, the Conseil du Patronat (CPQ), has denounced the workers for taking the province “hostage.” It is urging Couillard not only to pass an “emergency” back-to-work law, but to consider permanently stripping construction workers of the right to strike.

What has piqued the ire of big business and their political hirelings is that the strike has pointed to the enormous social power of the working class. When Couillard and the CPQ rage about the $45 million a day the strike is “costing” Quebec they are admitting, albeit backhandedly, that the workers produce vast wealth. This wealth is appropriated by the construction bosses, banks, and other sections of big business in the form of immense profits…

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