21 September, 2022A group of 150 members of Unifor local at Joliet Ash Grove, owned by Irish cement giant CRH, in Quebec, Canada, have been locked out since May last year. With the employer refusing to engage with the union and using scab labour, there is no end in sight to the conflict.
Even though the collective bargaining was still ongoing, members of Local 177 were illegally locked out on 22 May, 2021. The legal lockout started on 3 June.
And the dispute is continuing, despite several bargaining sessions. The employer is attempting to extract numerous concessions from the Local’s members, particularly on the issue of subcontracting, all within a context where dozens of members stand to lose their jobs due to the closure of two out of four kilns.
Despite a severe lack of cement with rising market prices and a shortage of labour, Ash Grove refuses to use a recall list of current employees, which would allow workers to access other jobs in the company. Instead, the employer is using labour agencies and subcontractors.
In July, Daniel Cloutier, Unifor Quebec director, denounced the government’s lack of action in this dispute, arguing that through its inaction the government is facilitating the production of “scabbed cement” and setting itself at odds with its own anti-scab legislation by helping to prolong the conflict.
Alexander Ivanou, IndustriALL director of materials industries, says:
“This conflict has dragged on for far too long at the expense of the members of Unifor Local 177. Together with the CRH global union network and EWC, IndustriALL stands in solidarity with the workers. The union busting must stop immediately and management must return to the negotiation table.”
Photo credit: Unifor Local 177 Facebook page