Quebec daycare workers' union votes overwhelmingly in favour of unlimited general strike
MONTREAL -- The CPE union affiliated with the CSN has voted 92.1 per cent in favour of a mandate for an unlimited general strike.
The Fédération de la santé et des services sociaux (FSSS-CSN) said Friday morning that its strike mandate will start Dec. 1 if negotiations with the government do not improve by then.
Representative Stéphanie Vachon points out the result of the vote sends a clear message.
"The government can try to beat the unions over the head all it wants, but ultimately, it is the members who decide," she said. "By voting so overwhelmingly in favour of a strike, and thus accepting to lose days, even weeks of wages, these already underpaid workers have just told the government that they are ready to fight to the end to get a fair deal for all employees."
Wednesday, workers with the CSQ-affiliated Fédération des intervenantes en petite enfance (FIPEQ) also voted, with more than 91 per cent, in favour of an unlimited strike mandate.
The QFL-affiliated Syndicat québécois des employés de service (SQEES) has begun voting on its own strike mandate and will continue until next Tuesday.
PREMIER BELIEVES NEGOTIATED AGREEMENT POSSIBLE
While Treasury Board President Sonia LeBel raised the possibility of special legislation on Thursday, saying it was "very definitely part of the tools available," Premier François Legault did not want to go down that road for the time being, even suggesting that he was ready to intervene personally.
"I can't believe, when I look at the issues on the table, that we are not able to agree," he said. "It's common sense. I'm going to see how Sonia (LeBel) can get involved, how I can get involved, but it seems to me that common sense says: it's pretty well settled on the educator side.
"What I want is a negotiated settlement."
Legault cited the fact that "we are very close to the union's demands for child care workers. That's not where the problem lies, it's more on the side of the support staff, those who do the cleaning, those who do the food, etc."
However, he also made it clear that he has no intention of aligning government offers to support staff with those made to educators, as the unions are demanding.
"We have a duty as a government to maintain fairness," said Legault. "Someone who cleans in a school must be paid relatively the same as someone who cleans in a daycare. The support staff must have salaries that are comparable to other support staff in other networks. It seems to me that this is common sense."
On Thursday, Treasury Board President Sonia LeBel expressed her exasperation at the possibility of a strike.
"It's time to be reasonable," she told the workers at the childcare centers. "We have lost sight of the reality of parents."
Her colleague, Mathieu Lacombe, added: "The unions must listen to reason."
LeBel also said she still believed that an agreement was possible with the unions.
-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Nov. 26, 2021.