On the Picket Line

Child care worker walkouts spread across Quebec

By Rosemary Ray
November 1, 2021

MONTREAL — Some 600 child care workers, members of the Confederation of Quebec Unions (CSQ), rallied in front of the Ministry of the Family here Oct. 12 demanding higher wages, better working conditions and an end to forced overtime. The action is part of a series of one-day strikes fighting for a new contract in the province.

“Even though I’ve worked in child care for 20 years I still cannot afford the average rent in Montreal,” Marcie Courjean told the Militant at the demonstration. Wage increases are needed to “keep up with inflation.” Three days later, another 6,000 striking child care workers, members of the Confederation of National Trade Unions (CSN), marched through the streets of Quebec City. Like thousands of other workers at the 7,000 child care centers (CPEs) across Quebec, they have been without a contract for 18 months.

CSQ Child Care Division President Valerie Grenon told the media that the unions are demanding higher wages. The unions want pay increases of up to 27% over four years. She added that the CPEs are understaffed by 3,000 workers.

The continuing one-day strikes have put pressure on the government. It made a public announcement Oct. 14 that as of mid-November it would offer those holding college diplomas in childhood studies a 12% increase. But those without diplomas would get only 9%.

“The strikes and demonstrations by child care workers against the Quebec government have the broad support of working people, including tens of thousands of parents affected by the strikes,” said Beverly Bernardo, Communist League candidate for mayor of Montreal, as she marched with the strikers Oct. 12. “They deserve and need the active support of unions everywhere.”