Striking daycare workers weather the storm
Close to 11,000 day care workers from over 400 different day care centers across Quebec were on strike yesterday to express their frustration at being without a new collective agreement for roughly two and a half years. In Sherbrooke the strikers marched in a heavy downpour and strong wind gusts to make their message heard outside the offices of newly minted Families Minister Luc Fortin.
“For daycare workers, a strike is the last resort,” said Louise Labrie, spokesperson for the comité national de négociation des CPE de la Fédération de la santé et des services sociaux(fssscsn), the negotiating committee for daycares associated with the health and social services. “It disturbs parents and children, and we lose a day of pay. We would like to be working with the children, but the inaction of the government has forced us into this pressure tactic.”
The daycare unions are concerned about the degradation of adequate working conditions, particularly in terms of salaries, group insurance, and regional disparities as well as issues like services to special needs children, planning time, and places for workers on boards of directors.
Jeff Begley, President of the FSSS–CSN, shared in a press release issued by the organization that the provincial Government has cut funding to daycares by $300 million since 2014
45 day care centers in the Estrie Region closed their doors for the day.
Fortin met with representatives of the unions at his riding office in Sherbrook mid-morning and reiterated the willingness of the Family Ministry to continue contract negotiations in a “intensive” manner.
The minister was unavailable to speak with The Record directly on the matter, but in a press release put out by his office, Fortin expressed his disappointment at the use of strike measures.
“Unfortunately, children and their parents are the hardest hit by today's strike,” the statement reads. “Several bargaining sessions have already taken place allowing for the settlement of the vast majority of the clauses. Parents expect the parties to agree on a satisfactory agreement for the benefit of Quebec families. The government will continue to make every effort to reach an agreement as soon as possible and I invite the union to do the same.”
Monday’s strike day was the first of six approved by the union for use as needed over the coming weeks and months.