Presse, La, Strike

 The strike at the newspaper LA PRESSE began as a classic work conflict but became a major sociopolitical confrontation. The paper, the most important French-language daily in Québec, had been owned since 1967 by Paul DESMARAIS, president of Power Corp. At the end of July 1971, after 6 months of negotiations, management decided to lock out the typesetters belonging to 4 unions affiliated with the Québec Federation of Labour (Fédération des travailleurs du Québec). The unions refused to modify their collective agreements and to allow the loss of unionized jobs. The paper appeared until October 27, when the strikers forced it to close down.

Two days later, the 3 main UNION CENTRALS defied a municipal ban to organize a huge march in solidarity with the newspaper workers. More than 12 000 people clashed with 100 Montréal policemen. The outcome was some 50 arrests, several dozen injuries and one death from natural causes. These events had a powerful impact, especially among the QFL leaders, whose critique of society became radicalized as a result. The strike came during a period of intense frustration for the union movement, tested the preceding year by the OCTOBER CRISIS. However, negotiations resumed soon after the demonstration and 3 months later, 7 February 1972, management and workers reached a satisfactory compromise.