On December 1, tens of thousands of workers employed at the Early Childhood Centres (ECCs) in Quebec, Canada, went on an indefinite general strike under the banner of the Health and Social Services Federation of Unions (FSSS-CSN).
The striking workers include nearly 11,000 workers employed in 400 ECCs and performing services at 700 facilities, since a single centre often includes more than one facility. These ECCs are spread out throughout Quebec. These workers are educators and special care educators, who work closely with children before they enter kindergarten at the age of 5. They are trained to assist in developing the cognitive, language and motor skills of the children, detect children with special needs and work on them to being them at par with the others. There are also workers in the kitchen who prepare meals for the children and organise the supplies, workers who assist in cleaning and maintaining hygiene at the centers. Workers who do the administrative work are also participating in the strike.
The main demands of the striking workers are wage increase for all categories of workers and wage parity with the same category of workers in other services. They are demanding a reduction in workload and higher educator-child ratio, as well as appointment of more workers to assist children with special needs. Above all, the striking workers are demanding that their profession be given the dignity it deserves and remunerated accordingly, in view of their special role in the early development of the children.
The ECC workers are continuing the struggle with immense unity and solidarity in their ranks. They have received the wholehearted support of the parents of the children and of the entire community.