May 20th, 2024

As summer wildfire season nears, Quebec forest fire workers vote for strike mandate

By The Canadian Press on May 10, 2024.

Quebec forest fire workers have voted 99 per cent for a strike mandate as the summer wildfire season approaches. Firefighters work in a forest in Normetal, Que., in a June 11, 2023, handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-SOPFEU, Caroline Boyaud, *MANDATORY CREDIT*

MONTREAL – Workers with Quebec’s forest fire agency have voted 99 per cent in favour of a strike mandate as the summer wildfire season approaches.

The Unifor union, which represents provincial fire service workers including firefighters, communications staff and mechanics, says the mandate allows members to strike “at the opportune moment.”

Workers with the fire service – the Société de protection des forêts contre le feu, or SOPFEU – were kept busy last year during a record-breaking wildfire season.

Unifor says that despite the participation of a mediator, negotiations have stalled over such issues as salaries, vacations and workforce mobility.

Quebec law requires SOPFEU workers to maintain essential operations during a strike.

The forest fire protection service, which employs about 450 people, says Quebec saw slightly more fires than average in April, with 52 fires burning about 46 hectares.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 10, 2024.

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