Four days have passed since the construction industry launched
an unlimited general strike across Quebec. The last unlimited
general strike in this industry goes back to 1986. The various
industry stakeholders must quickly address issues a strike can
cause, especially managing deadlines on construction sites.
Although it is difficult to estimate how long this strike will
last, some delays to agreed deadlines and some substantial cost
overruns could be experienced. Each strike day can represent a
considerable loss and compromise the economic viability of
Clients and contractors must immediately consider the
Delays and additional costs resulting from the
Analyzing the delays and the additional costs that may
arise from the strike and identifying who should be liable is
Analyzing contractual provisions between clients and contractors,
or between contractors and subcontractors, is essential. Several
standardized industry contracts1 provide that a
strike is a case of force majeure, an
"excusable" delay for the contractor. Some contracts are
silent on this topic (or subcontractors' contracts are not
consistent with contractors' and clients' contracts),
meaning parties have to rely on the law and case law. The question
will be to determine if the strike constitutes force
majeure excusing the contractor from the delay caused by the
strike and, if this is the case, if the contractor can claim
additional costs such as measures to make up for lost time.
Similarly, an owner experiencing delivery delays affecting third
parties (late delivery of business premises to tenants, late
delivery of condominiums, etc.) should determine his or her
responsibility in this regard and give the necessary notices.
Contractors should determine the impacts of delays on
penalty clauses stipulated in contracts, if any.
Likewise, material and equipment suppliers, whose orders are
suspended or moved due to the strike, should be informed of their
rights and obligations, and give the necessary notices.
In the case where delays were already attributable to
contracting parties before the strike started, crystallizing these
delays, for example, by giving notices to late contractors, should
To prevent possible conflicts, contractors should evaluate their
duty towards their clients to give information concerning any
additional delays that will be incurred for the delivery of a
project due to the strike.
In addition to some obligations regarding labour relations
(scope of work submitted to the strike, maintenance of the working
conditions during the strike, possibility of workers working during
the strike, etc.), contractors must be aware of their health and
security obligations during the strike, especially the obligation
to ensure security on site during the suspension of construction
1 Ex: Paragraph. 6.5.3 CCDC 2 2008.
2 L'Association de la construction du Québec has
published online an informative document concerning the rights and
obligations for different stakeholders in the construction industry
during a strike. To consult it, follow this link:http://www.acq.org/nego/973-que-faire-en-cas-de-greve.html
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Russell v. Township of Georgian Bay provides a useful reminder of the fact that while municipal officials sometimes appear to hold all of the cards in disputes with home owners, that is not always the case.
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