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Tribunal orders Quebec crane operators ordered back to work

Last Updated Jun 21, 2018 at 6:20 pm MST

Construction cranes are at a standstill on the construction site of the new Champlain bridge in Montreal on Monday, June 18, 2018. Quebec's construction commission is seeking an order from a labour tribunal that would force the province's crane operators back to work.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson

MONTREAL – Quebec’s crane operators are being ordered back to work.

A labour tribunal hearing ruled Thursday evening in favour of an order sought by the province’s construction commission, forcing workers to end any work stoppage or slowdown tactics.

The tribunal will decide at a later date whether the actions constituted a illegal strike when it hears the case on its merits.

In granting the interim order, the tribunal ruled that the urgency to act was justified because of significant impacts on worksites because of the work stoppage.

Quebec crane operators stayed away from the job for a fourth day on Thursday, protesting changes made to training requirements earlier this year they say will make their workplaces more dangerous.

The changes were made in May and allow workers to operate cranes without first obtaining a vocational diploma.

Crane operators say the new training program is less comprehensive and could lead to a rise in workplace accidents.

The construction commission, which enforces industry labour rules in Quebec, had argued the strike is illegal because crane operators are under contract until 2021.

The collective agreement prohibits ordering, encouraging or supporting a strike, slowdown or lockout.

There are 1,856 crane operators in the province and 1,573 of them are represented by two major unions whose lawyers argued against the order on Thursday.