14,000 Quebec home daycare workers hold 1-day strike

Parents of more than 90,000 children will have to make alternate arrangements this morning after 14,000 home daycare workers stage a one-day strike.

Home daycare workers have been without collective agreement since November 2013

More than 90,000 children attend subsidized home daycares in Quebec. (The Associated Press file photo)

Parents of more than 90,000 children will have to make alternate arrangements this morning after 14,000 home daycare workers stage a one-day strike.

The workers are using the pressure tactic to denounce what it said is a lack of government openness at the negotiation table.

Most of us are women and a lot of chose this profession because we want to be at home with our children.- Cynthia Buckley, home daycare owner

The daycare workers affiliated with the Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ) have been without a collective agreement since November 2013. They said discussions with the province’s new Family Minister Francine Charbonneau have not moved ahead.

“We don’t take it lightly, to go on strike. It was a big decision. Really, the big reason, the government — the minister of families — are very closed to any negotiation talks, any of our requests. They are not even answering. There are no negotiations going on at all,” said Cynthia Buckley, a home daycare owner in Île-Perrot, on CBC Daybreak on Monday.

Government responds

Francine Charbonneau told Radio-Canada on Monday morning that pressure tactics like this one would be a legitimate form of protest if there weren't already ongoing negotiations.

Charbonneau said talks were advancing, although perhaps not as fast as the Centrale des syndicats du Québec would like.

She said it was a fairly complicated issue, because the daycare owners are technically self-employed.

"Can I really be self-employed, be considered a salaried employee and also tell the boss what to do?" Charbonneau asked in an interview on Radio-Canada.

She said the strike was unfair to parents, adding that many grandparents still work in Quebec, making it harder for parents to find last-minute babysitters.

Difference of interpretation

Buckley is also union secretary for the Alliances des intervenantes en milieu familial du Suroît (ADIM Quebec), which represents off-island daycares in communities including Valleyfield, St-Lazare and Châteauguay.

She said one of the major points of contention is that the people who run the publicly-subsidized daycares aren’t always allowed to have their own children at their own daycare because of rules about the ratio of children to workers.

“Most of us are women and a lot of chose this profession because we want to be at home with our children,” Buckley said.

She said it was important for the Bureau coordonnateurs de la garde en milieu familial — the provincial organization that acts as a mediator between the family ministry and daycare owners — is involved in the new collective agreement negotiations.

The coordinating bureau, Buckley said, is responsible for interpreting and applying the laws concerning public daycares. She said a lot of difficulties pop up in this realm, pointing to the case of a daycare worker who went on sick leave for a year when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. When her year was up, she asked for an extended leave of absence and was denied.

She died two weeks ago.

Buckley said there’s no real way to mediate differences of opinion between the coordinating bureau and daycares. “Right now our only recourse is to go to court,” Buckley said.

So far there have been 28 meetings between the two parties. The salary expectations were sent in two weeks ago.

The home daycare workers’ union is calling for three other strike days this summer if negotiations don’t progress.


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