Montreal

Quebec's public daycares start rolling strikes to demand higher pay, more resources

Around 600 public daycares across the province are staging rotating strikes this week and into early next week, part of an effort to pressure the Quebec government to improve working conditions and speed up negotiations on a new collective agreement.

Strikes in Montreal, Laval, Lanaudière, Montérégie and Eastern Townships kick off today

Public daycares in Montreal, Laval, Lanaudière, Montérégie and Estrie regions are kicking off the rotating strikes today. (Charles Contant/CBC)

Many parents will have to make alternative arrangements for their children starting today as thousands of Quebec's public daycare workers walk off the job over the next week.

Around 600 Centres de la petite enfance — commonly referred to as CPEs —  are staging rotating strikes across the province in an effort to pressure the Quebec government to improve their working conditions and speed up the negotiation of a new collective agreement.

Public daycares in the regions of Montreal, Laval, Lanaudière, Montérégie and the Eastern Townships will strike today and the Capitale-Nationale, Chaudière-Appalaches and Abitibi-Témiscamingue tomorrow. Other daycares provincewide will follow suit later this week.

Early childhood educators with the Fédération des intervenantes en petite enfance du Québec (FIPEQ), affiliated with the Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ) are kicking off the strike Tuesday and Wednesday. 

FIPEQ-CSQ president Valérie Grenon says three major sticking points are currently blocking negotiations: educators want higher salaries, more resources for staff  and better support for children with special needs.

The union is asking for a pay bump of 21 to 27 per cent, while the government is offering about half that. Grenon says the increase is needed to maintain a minimum level of staffing. 

Grenon says the system is currently short about 3,000 educators. In five years time, she says that number could reach 13,000, according to estimates. 

Despite several days of negotiations over the past few weeks, Grenon says nothing has changed.

"We are still on the July offers. For us, this is unacceptable. We didn't accept it in July, we won't accept it today," she said.

In addition to increased salary and resources, the union is fighting to get rid of mandatory overtime. "This is their solution to solve the labour shortage, [the government] tells us," says Grenon.

Educators are planning to demonstrate in Montreal and Sherbrooke on Tuesday, and in Lévis and Rouyn-Noranda on Wednesday.

Union members with the CSN-affiliated Fédération de la santé et des services sociaux have announced they will strike on Thursday and Friday. 

Child-care workers with the FTQ-affiliated Syndicat québécois des employées et employés de service will strike on Oct. 18 and 19.

With files from Shuyee Lee, La Presse canadienne

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