Quebec Firestone Strikers: ‘We Have No Choice’

The Militant, Vol.60 No.3, 22 January 1996

This column is devoted to reporting the resistance by working people to the employers' assault on their living standards, working conditions, and unions.

We invite you to contribute short items to this column as a way for other fighting workers around the world to read about and learn from these important struggles. Jot down a few lines about what is happening in your union, at your workplace, or other workplaces in your area, including interesting political discussions.

The strike of 750 workers at the Bridgestone/Firestone tire factory in Joliette, Quebec, continues with no end in sight.

We have no choice but to continue the strike, said oil worker Philip Tremblay. We can't work under the conditions that the company wants to impose.

Workers are striking for a wage increase and pension improvements, for relief from a crushing work schedule, and against an arbitrary attendance policy and other rules that the company is demanding. There has been no wage increase at the plant since 1991 and the pension plan pays only $23 a month per year of service.

Strikers are taking their fight to other workers in Quebec, appealing for financial support as well as a boycott of Bridgestone /Fire-stone tires. They are also traveling to other provinces and countries

In 1992, the company demanded and received concessions to run the plant all seven days a week with 12-hour shifts, imposing the same alternating 48-hour/36-hour workweeks on night shift workers as the day shift was already putting in.

The union is now demanding the right for night shift workers to take an occasional Saturday night off without pay, but the company refuses.

More than anything this is a fight for the guys who work night shift, explained union executive committee member Alain Longpré. The schedule the company is running is too hard, we can't do it. We are humans, not machines.