Quebec construction strike: Marois not ready to force workers back on the job

QUEBEC – Quebec Premier Pauline Marois is giving striking construction workers and an alliance of construction companies until the end of the week to come to an agreement.

If that doesn’t happen, Marois says she’ll introduce back-to-work legislation.

She also appointed a new mediator to help the two sides reach a deal.

About 175,000 construction workers in the residential, commercial and industrial sector have been off the job since last Monday.

Talks broke off past midnight on Sunday after a lengthy weekend negotiation session. The main sticking points include wages, overtime, and labour mobility.

But Marois says there’s reason for optimism after an agreement in principle was reached today for those who work on the province’s roads.

The construction strike has stalled work on Montreal’s two megahospitals, which are among the biggest construction projects in Canada.

It’s also causing concern for people waiting to move into new homes and condos. July 1 is Quebec’s traditional moving day.

Marois hinted last week that she could introduce back-to-work legislation before departing on a work mission to Mexico this Wednesday.

On Monday, she told reporters in Quebec City she’s hopeful a deal can get done.

“It’s always better for the two sides to reach an agreement rather than introduce back-to-work legislation,” she said.

“We want people to come back to work happy and be productive.”