With its wide range of expertise, high labour demand and considerable contribution to the economy, construction continues to be a leading industry. It has some 140,000 workers and over 21,000 employers. All trades considered, it represents 1 in every 25 jobs across the province. Injecting over $30 billion into Quebec’s economy each year, the construction industry has no choice but to grow from truly solid foundations.
With its four sectors (residential, institutional and commercial, industrial, civil engineering and roadwork), the construction industry has no less than 26 trades and 32 occupations. To meet industry requirements and the specific needs of its workers, each sector has its own collective agreement. The industry’s diversity opens it to job markets and helps it meet Quebecers’ various needs, from home renovations to hospital retrofits, and from major hydroelectric projects to extensive roadwork.
In short, the construction industry has a bright future. Let’s keep it on the right track!
Unfortunately, the construction industry does face some challenges: economic cycle-related instability, high rates of worker turnover, chronic unemployment, seasonal or region-specific jobs, etc. FTQ-Construction is making efforts to balance the scales and plan solutions that will ensure better conditions for all workers. It has made it its mission to improve different aspects of the industry, namely occupational health and safety, union education, professional training, income security, promotion of the Fonds de formation (training fund), regional presence through union action committees (UAC) and organizing actions on job sites.
Aware of the construction industry’s realities, the union does all it can to prevent and fix cracks in the system. Ongoing insecurity, risk of injury, illness and death, large imbalances in supply and demand and many more conditions drive FTQ-Construction to equip itself with the necessary action and mobilization tools to improve conditions for construction workers.
PROFESSIONAL TRAINING: A FOOT IN THE DOOR
Getting a diploma of vocational studies (DEP) is still the best way get into the construction industry. Public education (an important social achievement in the eyes of the union) provides workers with a certificate of competency and recognized training in their trades. This certificate also ensures that workers have the same qualifications, which ultimately improves job trends. FTQ-Construction encourages its members to obtain a diploma of vocational studies to even out the industry’s fluctuations in supply and demand.
WIN-WIN FOR CLIENTS
Consumer satisfaction is a priority. This why, quite concretely, the construction industry and FTQ-Construction encourage their employees to obtain a certificate of competency so that all the industry’s workers may hold recognized skills and therefore equal qualifications. Professional training protects the client, who is guaranteed the same service and quality for every task and job.
Labour pools are only opened when there is a labour shortage. Workers without industry-recognized certificates, but with education levels equivalent to those required for their trade are permitted to enter the construction industry during periods of labour shortage. These workers meet a temporary need, which inevitably increases job instability. The roller-coaster ride these diploma-less workers is more demanding and uncertain, due to job precariousness and economic cycles, and soon pushes them out of the industry. When entering the industry during a labour shortage, uncertified workers must still receive mandatory training to renew their competency card and keep it valid. This training is similar to the certified training programs offered in the eight specialized instruction centres in Quebec.
Given the current system’s haphazard economic development, FTQ-Construction’s mission to protect its workers is a sizeable challenge. To create security, two training funds were created in 1992. The first serves the residential sector and the other the industrial, institutional and commercial, civil engineering and roadwork sectors. The negotiation of these funds, which are paid into solely by employers, requires dispensing broader knowledge and skill to ensure more continuous, lengthier and fuller participation in the industry. The training paid by the funds aims to develop worker skills in new technologies, for example, and to recycle their know-how to keep up with progress in the industry. Each year, approximately 15 million dollars are invested into giving workers relevant and up-to-date training.
By controlling labour pools, the construction industry also supports workers in Quebec’s rural areas. Created to protect regional jobs, these controlled pools guarantee more hours and more job opportunities to construction workers living outside the province’s major urban centres.
CHALLENGES AND COMMITMENTS
FTQ-Construction proposes two anchor points for its professional training objective: giving workers access to the construction industry and protecting workers’ hours and work periods. The union is advancing a policy that encourages workers to obtain a diploma of vocational studies (DEP) since this stimulates the industry’s activity and development. Diploma-holders increase their chances of carving a choice place for themselves in the industry because they can stay there longer. Construction workers, employers and consumers all benefit from this training, since continued proficiency ensures the same product and labour quality, regardless of trade.
After all, he who gives, receives.