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.