Provincial park employees set to strike during construction holiday


Employees at 23 provincial parks and five tourist sites will walk off the job during Quebec's construction holiday this summer.

The 1,500 members of the SFPQ who work in the affected parks and sites will launch their strike on Saturday, July 20, before the official start of Quebec's two-week-long construction holiday.

SEPAQ management said the sites will stay open even if there's a strike, but it could affect services.

The Union of Public and Parapublic Workers of Quebec (SFPQ) sent new strike notices to the minister of labour and SEPAQ management this week -- but union representatives say they are willing to negotiate.

"It can be avoided," said SFPQ president Christian Daigle. "Right now they're at the table discussing. We hope the discussion goes well and we'll have an agreement before the 17th of July."

On Friday, workers demonstrated in front of a meeting of CAQ ministers who were announcing a $33-million upgrade to facilities at Montmorency Falls, one of Quebec's most popular tourist sites.

"I'm disappointed. But it's the game in negotiations," said SEPAQ director Jacques Caron. "I'm not sure it's good timing, but it's their decision." 

The affected parks include the Bic, Gaspé, Iles-de-Boucherville, Mont-Megantic and Mont-Saint-Bruno.

Employees say they are seeking a raise. Most of these workers are seasonal employees who work as fishing or hunting guides, greeters, park wardens, and land attendants. Many earn $13 or $14 an hour.

SEPAQ employees last went on strike in 2013. 

- With files from The Canadian Press