Friday, March 17, 2006

Go figure: government day care workers on strike

Did you know that day care workers are on strike in Montreal? No? Neither did I, until I read about it last week in William Watson’s column, buried on the last page of the Post’s business section. To be fair, they are only on strike for an hour a day, as Watson writes:

They don't show up for the first hour of the day. This is not to inconvenience parents, they insist, but to put pressure on the provincial government to pick up the pace on implementing a pay-equity settlement brought down last year by the tribunal that handles such things.

Of course, the only way to pressure the government is to inconvenience parents so they'll complain enough to government that it relents and uses (by and large) non-parents' money to pay for daycare. If the non-inconvenience of arriving one hour late doesn't work, they plan to start arriving two hours late -- until things become so non-inconvenient that the government caves. (In fairness, workers in the Laurentian region north of Montreal voted not to join in the pressure tactics. Good for them!)

It's a classic People's Republic of Quebec unholy trinity: public management of an important service, unions run amok, and pay equity. The union's view is that mainly female daycare workers who earn $19.55 an hour should actually be making $21.78 an hour. Why is that? Because men doing entirely different things are paid $21.78 an hour. It's a question of fairness, you see.

"But it's entirely different work," you say. How naive of you! It may not be exactly the same work. Actually, it may not be remotely similar work. But it is work ... of ... equal ... value.

You might think that the media in English Canada would throw some light on this, given: (1) it is less than two months after an election partially fought on the child care issue, (2) the Harper government has named their $100/month child care promise as one of their top five priorities, and (3) the other three parties in Parliament are holding fast to their dreams of a Quebec-style system for all.

My Google search suggests that this story has not broken outside of the Quebec media. Now why wouldn’t journalists want parents in Ontario to know what government day care looks like when it’s delivered by unionized workers? I simply can’t imagine . . .

Compare this radio silence to the wide coverage received today by a YWCA "study" that claims all families want a government day care system. The survey was based on chats with around 100 people, apparently drawn from the YWCA's own client groups, in four communities. A look at the study's "expert panel" reveals the usual big-government day care suspects, er, advocates: Martha Friendly and Kerry McCuaig. (I will read the full report and may be blogging further on it.)

A nice companion piece to this apparent non-story of the day care strike is last week's item about how two day care workers in Laval (that's also in Quebec) left an sleeping infant alone in a day care centre having locked up and gone home at 6:00 p.m. Amazingly, they were fired.

9 comments:

Adam Daifallah said...

Ah, the two solitudes.

PGP said...

Good post Joan...

Anonymous said...

Not all daycare workers in Quebec are unionized and they certainly aren't all on strike.

Steve said...

My Google search suggests that this story has not broken outside of the Quebec media. Now why wouldn’t journalists want parents in Ontario to know what government day care looks like when it’s delivered by unionized workers? I simply can’t imagine . . .

That's why we blog Joan. As you know, if you rely on the MSM for your news, you are missing the story.

Nunc Scio said...

Unless $100 bills can take care of children, I'm not sure how the Tory plan will eradicate labour problems in Day-Cares. As you are no doubt aware, Canada's labout laws allow anyone to join a union. And, oh, but don't those pesky workers love getting together and demanding fair pay- even in the private sector.

And as for the mainstream media, they are annoying too, aren't they. Always muddling everything up with their facts and geographical relevance. I can't imagine why media in BC or Alberta are ignoring a one-hour strike localized entirely within Montreal. Hmmm. Indeed, thank god for the right-thinking bloggers. When news isn't filling the void, its nice to turn to innuendo and vague supposition.

Steve said...

Nunc Scio, do you need it spelled out for you?

With the Tory plan, not every daycare worker will be a member of the same public sector union. Some of them might actually work for the private sector. Hence, society cannot be held to ransom if they threaten to go on strike. Parents will have other options and that competition will be good for children too.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Joan, I've been blogging on the YWCA report as well. I'm glad to see that someone else thinks that their claims are outrageous. I'm in the process of emailing the authors for their methodology.

We should compare notes.

Steve, you're right. Blogging forces MSM to reveal their bias.

Anonymous said...

YWCA Canada's is the 2nd-largest provider of child-care services in Canada, with 4,550 licensed spaces ...

Draw your own picture

Sara said...

I can tell you a stay at home parent will never go on strike,, not even 1!!!

and yah I know, I did it on my blog too but the media won't pick it up will they!