Above: A powerful union leader, who goes by the name ‘Rambo’ took the stand to testify in Quebec’s ongoing inquiry into corruption in the construction industry. Mike Armstrong reports.
MONTREAL – The Quebec union organizer known as “Rambo” is portraying himself as a peacemaker and not as a violent man who used intimidation to get what he wanted.
Bernard Gauthier told the Charbonneau Commission today that municipal councillors in Havre St-Pierre even called him once to quell a protest on a construction site.
Gauthier testified that local workers were mad because they wanted to work on the federal site.
He says he calmed them down by showing them they did not have the proper skills for the job.
The burly heavy-machinery operator has been described in previous testimony as a central figure in heavy-handed union tactics that included bullying and intimidating contractors.
WATCH: ‘Rambo’ takes the stand
Gauthier took issue with testimony by an investigator who said even Quebec provincial police were afraid of him.
“If they were afraid of me, it still cost me a lot in tickets,” he quipped.
Gauthier said the Quebec Federation of Labour’s construction wing tried to talk to him about his involvement in wildcat strikes and his strict adherence to collective agreements.
The inquiry has heard that these methods drove up the cost of construction on the Quebec North Shore by as much as 30 per cent.
But Gauthier said his discussions with the union never went any further and that his real bosses were the workers in the region. In fact, the labour federation even paid for his fines when he was cited for bullying and harassment.
The union organizer argued his methods were necessary to defend the rights of workers in a far-flung region where the collective agreement was fiercely defended because it was so hard to find jobs.