Unions prep for 59-hour vigil in front of the National Assembly in Quebec City

Representatives from all of the province's major labour unions are joining forces to hold a 59-hour vigil in front of the National Assembly in Quebec City to demand improvements to Bill 59 on occupational health and safety reform.

The demonstration began on Monday morning and will continue until 5 p.m. Wednesday.

Included in the demonstration are unions from the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN), the Fédération des travailleurs et travailleuses du Québec (FTQ), the Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ), the Centrale des syndicats démocratiques (CSD), the Syndicat de professionnelles et professionnels du gouvernement du Québec (SPGQ) the Syndicat de la fonction publique et parapublique du Québec (SFPQ), the Alliance du personnel professionnel et technique de la santé et des services sociaux (APTS) and the Union des travailleuses et travailleurs accidentés ou malades (UTTAM).

According to a press release issued Monday, the unions describe the reform, which they say they have been waiting on for decades, as disappointing and incomplete.

Part of the criticism includes what they call weak negotiations to improve work conditions in cases that could be deemed dangerous.

The unions are also outraged at what they say are "unjustified rollbacks of victims' rights when it comes to workplace accidents and illnesses," claiming they would be deprived of billions of dollars over the next decade.

The workers' unions say they believe the reform would relegate Quebec to "last place in North America" when it comes to preventing work-related accidents.

The Quebec government has been accused of wanting to save money for employers on the backs of injured and sick workers.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on May 31, 2021. 

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