“It took 18 months of negotiations, a host of pressure tactics, a Québec-wide rotating strike, a one-week indefinite general strike and the involvement of a mediator to reach an agreement in principle with the Minister of Families,” recounted FIPEQ-CSQ1 Vice President Mélanie Piché.
Leading up to the indefinite general strike of September 21, 2020, the HCEs first launched a 14-day rotating strike. Begun on September 1 in Québec City, it came to an end in the Montérégie and the Laurentians on the third Friday that followed. Their goal: to be properly recognized and secure working conditions which reflect both their skills and their responsibilities.
A difficult choice
“This decision was not made lightheartedly, given its far-reaching consequences, stated Mélanie Piché. Members aren’t paid when on strike. Furthermore, they risk losing their clientele due to the lack of services, hence the vital importance of standing in solidarity with one another.”
Finding a compromise
The HCEs did not reach their goal, namely of closing the pay gap and securing a $16.75 hourly wage. That amount is what a Step 1 untrained educator working in a childcare centre (CPE) earns.
However, they did come to an agreement with the Minister of Families as to the creation of a committee to address HCE wages. An independent expert will lead the committee and make recommendations. The findings of this committee, tasked with carrying out an income analysis, will apply as of April 1, 2022.
“It is thanks to the strength of our mobilization and the legitimacy of our demands that we were able to engage the population, explains Mélanie Piché. With their support, the Minister could not remain indifferent to our demands.”
1 Fédération des intervenantes en petite enfance du Québec.