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'Too early for strike,' Daycare workers say as negotiations begin with Quebec

Daycare workers demonstrate in Quebec City on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024. (Kelly Greig/CTV News) Daycare workers demonstrate in Quebec City on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024. (Kelly Greig/CTV News)

After a long and difficult negotiation with public sector employees, another discussion is about to begin with 13,000 workers in family daycares and CPEs.

It's too early to talk about a strike, according to Fédération des intervenantes en petite enfance (FIPEQ) President Valérie Grenon, but "it's on our minds because we're trying to get things moving, to put pressure other than with a strike, but we're not able to get anything moving."

FIPEQ members are demonstrating Thursday morning in Quebec City, hoping to increase pressure on the government to get negotiations underway after months of waiting.

"We're starting our pressure tactics. We're getting our members moving. We're going to meet with parliamentarians to set dates [for negotiations]," said Grenon.

FIPEQ says it tabled its demands last September and, since then, has received "nothing" from the Quebec government in terms of wages or work standards.

"We're negotiating, but there's no one in front of us; they're occupying the table," said Grenon, referring to government negotiators.

FIPEQ's collective agreements expired on March 31, 2023, at the same time as those in the public sector.

Grenon says she assumes Quebec wanted to first settle things with the inter-union Common Front and the Fédération Autonome de l'Enseignement (FAE) before moving on to childcare workers.

However, she laments Quebec could still have started discussing normative clauses with the FIPEQ.

The demands

In terms of wages, FIPEQ says it had the same initial demands as the public sector Common Front last September: increases in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) plus a certain percentage wage increase each year.

The Centrale des syndicats du Québec (CSQ) federation is also calling for more support to accommodate children with special needs in daycare services, and making other demands for leave and vacation time.

Family daycare workers are not paid by the hour, but they do receive a subsidy from the Family Ministry.

FIPEQ is calling for an increase in this subsidy that considers rising costs.

"We can't wait another year or two. There's a labour shortage right now. The Family Minister (Suzanne Roy) says there are places and places and places for Quebec families, but if we don't have caregivers and if we don't have good working conditions, those places will never open up," said Grenon.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Feb. 22, 2024. Top Stories

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