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CPE educators hold two-day protest for better working conditions

Local members of the Syndicat des travailleuses et travailleurs en petite enfance de la Montérégie-CSN walked off the job at area CPEs on October 14 and 15. The two-day protest was part of rotating strikes taking place across the province by early-childhood educators who have now been without a contract for over 18 months. Last week’s action followed an initial protest on September 24, which was launched after Quebec’s 11,000 public daycare workers voted overwhelmingly in favour of a 10-day strike mandate.

“It feels like we are the last ones to be talked about or to be considered,” says Christine Parent, who sits on the labour relations committee for the CPE Kaleidoscope which has centres in Hinchinbrooke and Saint-Chrysostome. “We have not been closed for one day since the start of the pandemic,” she says, noting that CPE educators provided emergency daycare services early on in the crisis, and have continued to work every day amid constantly evolving public health directives.

 

Early childhood educators from the CPE Kaleidoscope protested in Huntingdon on October 14 as part of a two-day strike. Many local public daycare workers travelled to Quebec City on October 15, where they joined with a larger protest demanding better working conditions from the provincial government. PHOTO Sarah Rennie

 

“It would be nice to be acknowledged as the true professionals that we are,” Parent laments, before pointing out that while COVID-19 has heightened issues within the daycare system, the motivations behind the strike action are pre-pandemic-driven. She says that while demands for an increase in salary are important, daycare workers are fighting for recognition and to improve their working conditions.

“We are asking for ratios to be respected,” she says, adding they are also requesting more time to plan. “There are a lot of things that parents do not realize fall into our day,” she explains, such as observing children for development targets, gauging activities to suit each child’s development level and then working with them to “scaffold,” or elevate, their participation and involvement.

“I feel that we have the population’s and parents’ support more than ever, but we are not being heard by the government,” Parent says. “I don’t think they realize how much they are asking of daycare educators and how little they are giving back in return.”

For Parent, the strikes will continue so long as progress isn’t made at the negotiation table. “We love our job, and the kids make it fun to go in to work,” she says. “This was not our first choice.”

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