MONTREAL –— Some 1,000 day care workers from across Quebec rallied in front of the offices of Family Minister Mathieu Lacombe here Sept. 21. Ten thousand at-home day care workers were forced out in a province-wide strike. They chanted in French, “So- so- so-solidarity” and “The battle will continue.”
The Federation of Early Childhood Workers of Quebec, the strikers’ union, calculates its members make 12.42 Canadian dollars an hour ($9.32), below Quebec’s minimum wage of CA$13.10, but the government is offering an increase of only 41 cents. Workers are demanding CA$16.75.
Some 2,500 day care workers’ jobs are vacant today, as many have quit over the low pay and poor conditions.
“We know that we deserve better,” Khadija Bounit, a day care worker, told the Militant at the rally. “We find this unjust, to receive less than the minimum wage, given the contribution that we make to society.”
Anne Dionne, a vice president of the Centrale des Syndicats du Quebec (CSQ), spoke at the rally. She told the Militant that home day care workers “work up to 55 hours a week from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.” with each one looking after as many as six children.
Workers have been without a contract for 18 months. On Sept. 1 they began a series of rotating strikes. “We want to be respected and have our work be recognized at its fair value,” Lili Illoul told the Militant at a Sept. 11 picket in front of the minister’s office.
The union is demanding arbitration but the government has refused.