MONTREAL — A union representing 10,000 Quebec home daycare workers began the first of a series of rotating strikes Tuesday, leaving thousands of families to find alternate child-care arrangements.
The group representing workers, Federation des intervenantes en petite enfance, said some 1,400 members were off the job Tuesday, affecting nearly 9,000 families.
Rotating strikes began in the Quebec City area and will end Sept. 18, in the Laurentians and Monteregie regions, north and south of Montreal, the union said. Daycare workers in Montreal are expected to strike Sept. 11.
The union says it plans to launch a general strike on Sept. 21 if no deal is reached before then. It estimates a total of about 60,000 families will be affected by the pressure tactics.
Representatives for the workers and for the Quebec government met Monday afternoon. The two parties have agreed to meet again Thursday, according to the union.
The union represents people who run daycares out of their home. Workers are seeking better wages, among other demands.
The daycare educators are not paid by the hour. Rather, they receive a subsidy from the government to provide the service at home. Their union estimates that based on hours worked and expenses, workers bring home the equivalent of $12.42 per hour. Workers are demanding the equivalent of $16.75 per hour.
"Our members are exhausted and breathless at the lack of recognition," union president Valerie Grenon said in a recent statement. "They're leaving the profession by the hundreds."
Quebec Families Minister, Mathieu Lacombe, has said he hoped to come to an agreement to avoid a strike. On Monday, his office reiterated that desire in a statement, adding the department was "satisfied" that talks were resuming.
"However, it is a pity that it's the families who see their daily lives upended in paying for the pressure tactics that begin today," the statement read.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 1, 2020.
Morgan Lowrie, The Canadian Press