MONTREAL -- Home daycare workers began an unlimited general strike across Quebec Monday, and demonstrated in the morning in front of the Montreal office of the families' minister.

The union representing around 10,000 home daycare workers affiliated with the CSQ called a general and unlimited strike early Monday morning, after a rotating strike took place from Sept. 1 to 18, across the province.

The workers are calling for increased wages and improved working conditions.

Negotiations ramped up at the end of last week and over the weekend, raising hopes that a general strike might be avoided. But the talks broke down over the issue of compensation. 

While CPE employees are paid an hourly rate, home daycare workers receive a subsidy per child. Anne Dionne, FIPEQ-CSQ union vice-president says a home daycare worker’s pay averages $12.42 per hour, and says they deserve to be paid the same as CPE employees. 

"They’re educators but they’re also good providers, book keepers, janitors and so on," she said. "Their average experience is about 16 years, so with all their experience and all their qualifications they should be at the same level as an untrained educator at a CPE, which is $16.75."

Mathieu Lacombe, Quebec’s minister of families, disagrees with the union's math, and says the subsidy adds up to the same pay as CPE workers. He says what’s being offered is a fair deal. 

"The union is asking for an increase that is unreasonable, a 35 per cent increase," he said. "We’ve offered a 9.8 per cent increase which is reasonable and now I’m recommending a mediator."

The union is calling for an arbitrator to settle instead of a mediator. 

"This morning I heard the union say we’re not capable of reaching an agreement," said Lacombe. "I think we are capable. We need to negotate, we owe that to Quebec parents, we need to find a solution."

FIPEQ president Valerie Grenoble believes that it is too late for mediation, because negotiations began a year and a half ago, in March 2019.

The strike is adding to the problem many parents face as they struggle to find childcare in order to return to work. As it stands, daycares in Quebec currently have a wait-list of 46,000 children.

- With files from CTV News Montreal's Iman Kassam