NEWS

Quebec provincial park workers suspend strike

10/13/2013 09:51 EDT | Updated 12/13/2013 05:12 EST
Workers at Quebec’s 22 provincial parks have suspended a strike that began Saturday morning, after the union and government representatives agreed to resume negotiations aimed at settling a new contract.

In a statement released Saturday evening, the provincial agency that manages parks and wildlife reserves, SÉPAQ, said the 700 striking employees had agreed to end their walk-out, and the parks have “resumed their normal pace.”

"It's our really big season right now. If we don't offer our services right now the park is going to suffer enormously," said Jean-Philippe Sabourin, an employee at Parc National du Mont-Saint-Bruno.

Demonstrations took place throughout the day on Saturday at parks affected by the strike, which was approved by 88 per cent of union members who voted.

- Quebec provincial park workers go on strike

The union representing park workers, the SFPQ, said its members have been without a contract since the end of last year.  The main issue in dispute is wages.

The average wage for a SÉPAQ employee is $14 an hour, and the work is seasonal.

The government has offered a four percent increase over five years, while the union is seeking a cost-of-living increase — or about two per cent a year.

The union said ending the strike is a sign of good faith, as the employees have agreed to return to work while negotiations take place.

However, the union said if the talks scheduled for next week go nowhere, it could resort to new pressure tactics during hunting season — a busy time for the parks' network.

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