Daycare worker one-day strike launched over slow negotiations
PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO
Following the one-day strike launched Monday, July 7 by striking daycare workers across the province, CSQ union members voted overwhelmingly in favour of holding two more future strike days unless the Quebec Family Minster Francine Charbonneau meets their demands. The union members have been without a collective agreement since November 2013.
A two-hour pressure-tactic demonstration by dozens of Vaudreuil-Soulanges daycare workers elicited honks of approval from passing motorists the morning of July 7 on Highway 20 in Île Perrot as part of the province-wide one-day strike by 13,600 unionized employees affiliated with the Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ).
“We’re here this morning to demonstrate to the government that we want a collective agreement signature as soon as possible,” said Sylvie Daoust, one of over 100 responsables de service de garde en milieu familial (RSGs) who gathered for the event that preceded the one-day strike. “Our first demand is recognition of our working hours,” she said, describing how a private home daycare RSG typically works five 10-hour days every week but is only paid for a 35-hour week. The workers are also seeking to have their cumulative experience recognized and remunerated accordingly, as every RSG currently earns the same amount, regardless of experience.
Currently, each RSG receives $27.57 per child per day from the government, plus the $7 flat rate from the parent. With the $34.57 total, they are required to purchase the child’s food, toys, and educational material.
The RSGs are paid 237 days of the year, with 25 vacation days including legal holidays. The workers earn 70 per cent for vacation days, with the remaining 30 designated to cover operating expenses. “Many daycare providers have more expenses than that,” said Daoust.
The group said they’ve been battling the provincial government on these issues since 1997 and the last collective agreement expired November 30 of last year.
“Our job is so important in our society,” said Daoust. “We’re raising the future of Quebec, teaching them how to communicate with each other and how to live in a society, as well as giving them tools to be successful in school. It’s a basic job with a high level of importance. We want that recognition.”
Daoust went on to say that the training undertaken by RSG members in the Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ) union is equivalent to Cegep and that the workers take additional yearly courses on early childhood development and education.
The group’s current negotiations with the government but communication issues between the RSGs and their respective coordinating offices (BC) are also up for discussion as the group says some of the guidelines are open to interpretation, leading to friction.
“We’re with the union to have a way to defend ourselves,” said Daoust, saying there was no way to contest a BC ruling is through a provincial administrative tribunal process, a process that can take years.
The group recently sought to have extended medical leave beyond the 12-month allowable standard by the BC, after which the RSG’s operating permit is revoked, and gained on that front, doubling the limit to two years. Daoust said this particular victory was significant, arriving so soon after the breast cancer death of Chantal Maltais, a Pincourt RSG.
Following Monday’s actions, the group has two-more half-days it plans to use for later pressure tactics, if necessary, and at the General Assembly held at the Île Perrot Community Centre after the demonstration, 92 per cent of attendees voted in favour of another three full days of strike action to be used at what the union deems an ‘appropriate’ time, depending on the progress of discussions at the bargaining table.