Strik­ing day­care work­ers weather the storm

Sherbrooke Record - - FRONT PAGE - By Gor­don Lam­bie

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.

PHO­TOS BY GOR­DON LAM­BIE

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