MONTREAL -- Daycare workers who are members of the FIPEQ unions voted in favour of an unlimited strike mandate on Wednesday, though when or if the strike will play out is yet to be determined.

Members of the Fédération des intervenantes en petite enfance, affiliated to the CSQ, voted 91.2 per cent in favour of this unlimited strike mandate.

During a meeting with the media, the president of the Fédération des intervenantes en petite enfance, Valérie Grenon, stated that this fight is being waged to attract staff to the early childhood centres (CPEs) and to see the network grow.

"What I want to say to parents is that we are doing this for the future of the network," said the FIPEQ president.

"The unlimited strike mandate that was obtained would be exercised 'before the holidays,'" but at a time yet to be determined, said Grenon. "It will depend on the pace of negotiations."

"We know that there are a lot of parents who support us, that there are parents who are going to have a hard time coming up with plan Bs. We're going to wish we don't have to use our indefinite general strike. But if we have to go there... it's for the future of the network, to avoid service disruptions and for the 37,000 families, right now, who are waiting for a place' in a child-care service," said Grenon.

There is currently a shortage of educators and a decline in enrolment in early childhood education programs.

Educators are underpaid, even according to the Legault government. As a result, it has already announced a partial salary increase in the midst of negotiations with the unions.

THE NEGOTIATIONS

With this unlimited strike mandate, the FIPEQ is once again coming to the bargaining table on Thursday with an increased balance of power against the government negotiators.

There were no negotiations between Quebec and the FIPEQ after the latter decided to break off negotiations last Friday evening.

The CSN-affiliated union, the Fédération de la santé et des services sociaux, will ask its members on Thursday to also vote on a mandate for an unlimited strike. On Wednesday, several of its members held a demonstration to express their impatience to reach an agreement with Quebec.

The main issue now is the wages of "other" workers in daycare centres. Grenon brought up the case of a maintenance worker in a CPE, who earns $15.32 per hour.

Quebec has offered larger pay increases to educators, but not to these 'other' workers in the CPEs, such as kitchen, administration and maintenance staff.

For that group of workers, Quebec is offering the same increases as the government employees, as in 2 per cent per year for three years, or 6 per cent, with a salary bonus for the lowest paid. This bonus brings the salary up from 6 per cent to 9 per cent, depending on the job title.

Treasury Board President Sonia LeBel has said that she can't afford to give more to the 'other' workers in the CPEs.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Nov. 24, 2021.