MONTREAL — Over 11,000 public sector day care teachers and support workers, members of the Confederation of National Trade Unions (CSN), ended a 12-day strike Dec. 12, voting up a new contract by 93%. Some 14,000 more workers from the Confederation of Quebec Unions (CSQ) and the Quebec Federation of Labor (FTQ) planned to join the strike Dec. 9, but didn’t do so when the agreement was reached.
The strike followed 10 days of targeted strike actions by the three union federations over the past few months.
“It’s not a raise, it’s catching up,” Ouiza Sadeg, a teacher for 15 years, told the Militant on the picket line in Montreal Dec. 9. The new contract includes a wage increase of 18% for teachers and from 8% to 12.5% for support workers, who comprise about 15% of day care workers. “We want wage equity across different sectors, like the kitchen staff,” explained Hyat Merrad, a 15-year teacher. “Hospital kitchen workers are better paid.”
Given the low pay and cutbacks in staffing, the workload has increased on all remaining workers. “Under conditions we currently face, many are leaving work completely exhausted,” Ariane Seguin-Leduc, who drove to a Nov. 23 action with fellow strikers from Acton Vale, 55 miles east of Montreal, told this worker-correspondent then. “Cooks, specialized educators, support workers, disinfection workers, administrative staff have been leaving. Without them the child care center is not functional.”
Parents have been organizing support actions for the strikers. “I see initiatives by parents in solidarity with striking employees, and I think we should join this movement,” Gabrielle Duschesneau, a mother affected by the strike, wrote on the Facebook page of the day care center where this writer’s baby also goes.
Being a day care teacher is “more about the outcome than the income,” Tania Badia told the Militant at the rally Nov. 23. “That being said, earning a wage that shows our work is valued is something we are striving for. The government has undervalued our profession, most of whose members are women, for years.”