Unlimited general strike closes public day care centers throughout Quebec

About 11,000 daycare workers are participating in an unlimited strike that is closing about 400 public daycare workers across the province of Quebec.

That National Trade Unions (CSN), representing the workers, is exercising its pre-approved strike mandate after collective bargaining with the province failed to bear fruit on Tuesday.

Negotiations stalled on the issue of salaries for support staff. Prime Minister Fran├žois Legault’s administration is offering educators a pay rise of up to 20 percent of salary, and day care associations, including CSN, have said yes to the increase.

But support staff in the day care facilities, including those working in maintenance, administration and kitchens, were only offered a nine percent increase. It turned out to be a problem.

Negotiations continue Wednesday and Thursday, but Lucie Longchamps, vice president of the union, told Radio Canada that they felt the need to go on strike now.

She said last week’s negotiations showed no movement in the increase for support staff and although the union was optimistic that progress could be made on Tuesday, it did not happen.

“Educators, their salaries have been handled, or almost,” she said. “But there is no doubt for them to move on without their colleagues who work in other jobs, without an increase for them too.”

Kyrstin Ghezzo, a lecturer at CPE Pointe-Saint-Charles in Montreal, is among the strikers. While her salary has already been settled, she agreed that everyone working in day care should have the same increase.

Kyrstin Ghezzo, a teacher at CPE Pointe-Saint-Charles in Montreal, said she is on strike in solidarity with her non-teaching colleagues. (Kate McKenna / CBC)

“At this point, with all employees and all children, and more children and being more demanding and longer working hours, it takes a toll on us,” Ghezzo said.

“As much as parents suffer, we also suffer because we are not getting paid at the moment,” she added.

Tzivia Abaiov’s son recently enrolled in a public daycare. She said she did not know what the hourly wage is for day care workers, but wants them to be satisfied, especially when working with children.

“But is the union and the strike the best way at the same time?” she asked.

Longchamps said the union will return to the table Wednesday and Thursday.

“We can be there seven days a week, almost 24 hours a day,” she said. “We will do everything we can to get a satisfactory agreement for the day care workers.”

Another union, the Quebec Federation of Early Childhood Workers, associated Central in Quebec unions (FIPEQ-CSQ), has 3,200 members. They also approved an indefinite strike mandate last week, but no exclusion date has been set.

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