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Some 600,000 civil servants in Canada's Quebec province — including teachers, nurses and social workers — are poised for a massive walkout this week to press for salary hikes in a tense situation that could escalate into a lengthy general strike.

After months of deadlocked negotiations with unions, the Quebec government appointed a mediator on Monday.

"This strike vote is a cry for help. Our members are telling us: 'We can't take it anymore,'" said Caroline Senneville, president of one of the unions calling for a "historic strike."

The call comes after the unions last month rejected a 10.3 per cent wage hike over five years and a onetime bonus of CAN$1,000 for each civil servant.

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