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Canadian Strikes

This subject guide is meant to assist students, particularly those enrolled in IRE1611, with research papers and assignments.

Quebec - A Selection of Notable Strikes (click on the tab, then scroll down for information on the strike)

CEZinc Refinery Strike 2017

Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Quebec

Union: United Steelworkers. Local 6486.

Employer: CEZinc Refinery (owned by Noranda Income Fund and operated by Glencore Canada).

Three hundred and seventy-one members of United Steelworkers Local 6486 had been on strike since February 12 over working conditions and the pension plan. They returned to work on December 3, a nearly 10-month strike. Eighty-two per cent backed the new contract, which will run until November 30, 2023. The collective agreement preserves the pension plan for current and future workers and contains one concession on holiday premium pay. The zinc refinery is one of the largest in North America and has been operating at between 50 per cent and 60 per cent capacity during the strike. The Quebec Ministry of Labour found the company used workers hired by sub-contractors to staff the refinery multiple times during the strike, in violation of Quebec's anti-scab legislation which prohibits the use of strikebreakers during labour disputes.


Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean Mechanics Lockout 2013-2015

Photo of Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean Mechanics Lockout 2013-2015











Saguenay--Lac-Saint-Jean, Quebec

Union: Syndicat Démocratic des Employés de Garage du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean, Centrale des Syndicats Démocratiques (SDEG-CSD)

Employer: group of garages

Lasting 35 months, the lockout involved 350 employees, including mechanics, service advisors, car washers and parts persons. The new six-year agreement includes wages increases of 2% for the three years of the dispute, a wage increase of 3% for 2016, 2.3% through 2021 and 3% in the final year.

"Jour de rentrée pour 150 employés de garage du Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean", Radio Canada, 25 janvier 2016

"Les employés de garage disent oui à 94%", Le Quotidien, 23 janvier 2016

"Un lock-out qui coûte cher aux employés de garage", Radio Canada, 19 janvier 2016

"Quebec mechanics end 3-year labour dispute in debt", Canadian Labour Reporter, Feb. 8, 2016.

Rio Tinto Alcan - Alma - Lockout 2012

Lockout January 2012 - July 2012.

USW Local 9490.


"British-Australian mining and metals giant Rio Tinto Alcan has reached an agreement in principle with workers at its aluminum smelter in Alma, Que., potentially ending a six-month lockout."

"The about 800 workers, from three separate bargaining units, have been locked out since January. Subcontracting of labour to replace retiring workers has been the main stumbling block in negotiations."

"The lockout resulted in a one-third cut cut in production at the smelter, with about 200 managers doing the work."

CBC News. (July 2. 2012). Rio Tinto Alcan Reaches Tentative Deal with Alma, Que., Workers.

"Dozens of picketing hotel workers lined the sidewalks outside the main entrance to the Queen Elizabeth Hotel last week to demand benefits and improved working conditions."

"Nearly 600 workers – including kitchen staff, servers, receptionists, bellhops, and housekeepers – went on strike August 28 after being without a contract for nearly two months. With over one thousand rooms, the hotel – located on René Lévesque and Mansfield – is the largest in the province and the latest in a string of conflicts between Quebec hotels and their staff."

"The union is demanding a reduction in workload for housekeeping staff members, who, under the previous collective agreement were expected to each clean 14 rooms per shift. Larche noted that as hotels had renovated rooms over the past decade, adding extra beds and mirrors, the workload had become heavier for housekeepers."

The McGill Daily. (September 8. 2008). Queen E. Workers Strike.


"On April 5, Common Front negotiators closed their briefcases, and talks ended. On April 10, all full walkout began. A day later, it had become the biggest strike in Canadian history. Hydro workers defied the injunctions, though only until their union, CUPE, reminded them of the dire penalties in store. Hospital employees, less carefully led, also walked out, forcing their institutions to empty three-quarters of their beds. .....On April 22, despite despite a twenty-four hour filibuster by the tiny Parti Québécois contingent, the National Assembly approved tough legislation to stop the walkout and to suspend public servants' rights to strike for two years. As a sop, the government offered arbitration, and no less than the government's final 5.3 percent offer" (Morton, 2007, p.288-289).

Morton, D. (2007). Working People. Montréal: McGill-Queen's University Press.

Drache, D. (1972). Quebec, only the beginning: The Manifestoes of the Common Front. Toronto: New Press.

"During rush hour on the morning of October 7, 1969, nearly a thousand City of Montreal policemen gathered in teh Paul Sauve Arena in teh east end to protest the salary settlement awarded them by the city government. Within an hour they were joined by about two thousand more of their colleagues and by several hundred of Montreal's firemen, who were also embroiled in a salary dispute with the city. Thus began a wildcat strike that would leave Montreal without adequate police or fire service for almost twenty-four hours. Over 3,000 of the city's 3700-man police force left their stations that day. It was the second police strike in Montreal and the fourth in Canada since the turn of the century" (Sylvester, Harris, Levin, & Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, 1973, p.51).

Sylvester, C., Harris, M., Levin, M., & Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. (1973). On strike!. Toronto: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

Thompson, M., & Swimmer, G. (1984). Conflict or compromise: The future of public sector industrial relations. Montreal, Quebec: Institute for Research on Public Policy.

"The exciter of the dynamics in this book is the world demand for copper which wholly accounts for Noranda Mines, Limited. The impeller is the natural urge of the United Steelworkers of America power dynasty to secure and protect, by whatever means, its monopoly. The French Canadians employed in Noranda Mines' enterprises, and members belonging to the union constitute a third force. When the Noranda subsidiary Gaspe Copper Mines Limited became the target of the USWA's illegal strike at Murdochville and Noranda sought relief from the courts and compensation for damages suffered, the civil authorities regulated this battle of giants during the raw passionate confrontations in the plants and the towns, then throughout the solemn formalities of their courts of justice."

Cork, E. (1999). What happened in Murdochville. Lake Orion, Michigan: E. Cork.

Haroun, T. (2005). Murdochville: Histoire d'une fermeture. Trois-Pistoles. QC: Éditions Trois-Pistoles.

Matte, M. (2005). L'activité secrète de René Lévesque le 18 juin 1965: Enquête. Outremont, Québec: Lanctôt.

Bédard, R. (2003). La grève de Gaspé Copper au jour le jour : Murdochville, 1957. Montréal, QC : MFR


Asbestos Strike 1949

Asbestos, Quebec

Delisle, E., & Malouf, P. K. (2004). Le quatuor d'Asbestos: Autour de la grève de l'amiante. Montréal: Éditions Varia.

Gagnon, J. (1999). La greve d'asbestos: Comment transformer une defaite syndicale en succes mediatique. Journal of Eastern Townships Studies, (13), 83-89.

Abella, I. M. (1974). On strike: six key labour struggles in Canada, 1919-1949. Toronto: James Lewis & Samuel Publishers.

Trudeau, P. E. (1974). The asbestos strike. Toronto: James Lewis & Samuel.

Cousineau, J. (1958). Réflexions en marge de "La grève de l'amiante: Contribution critique à une recherche. Montréal: Institut social populaire.

Trudeau, P. E. (1956). La grève de l'amiante: Und étape de la révolution industrielle au Quebec. Montréal: Éditions Cité libre.

Brown, L. H. (1949). A report on the strike at Asbestos: Quebec. Montreal.

"On November 24, 1966, 500 teachers in Yamaska and surrounding communities southeast of Montreal went on strike when local school boards refused to meet their salary demands. About 9,000 students were affected by the closing of schools" (Sylvester, Harris, Levin, & Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, 1973, p.41).

Sylvester, C., Harris, M., Levin, M., & Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. (1973). On strike!. Toronto: Ontario Institute for Studies in Education.

Palmer, B. D., & Sangster, J. (2008). Chapter 21: Parents, Pupils, and the Montreal Teachers' Strike of 1949, from Labouring Canada: Class, gender, and race in Canadian working-class history. Don Mills, Ont: Oxford University Press.


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