More than 1,000 unionized employees who work at ten private homes for the elderly walked off the job on Sunday. They are demanding better working conditions, including an hourly pay of $15.
Nine establishments will be affected by a seven-day strike that will end on July 20, and another establishment will be affected by a three-day work stoppage.
The private residences are located in Quebec City, Gatineau, Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Montreal, Laval, Saint-Lambert, Saguenay, and Levis.
The Quebec Union of Service Employees, affiliated with the FTQ, announced the strike mandate on June 27, hoping to put pressure on the various employers to accelerate negotiations.
"This is our second warning shot. We have already made the first three-day strike to demonstrate the good faith of employers in the negotiations. Unfortunately it did not help," said union president Sylvie Nelson.
The SQEES-FTQ also holds an unlimited strike mandate for the fall, if no progress is observed.
"What we want is for the negotiations to succeed, for people to be paid decently," said Nelson. "We do not want to be outside, we want to be inside to give services to the beneficiaries, but it's an ultimatum."
The president of the union argues that all the other pressure tactics have not been successful.
"Employers need to be made to understand that we are serious and that it is time to adequately pay the workers of private homes," she said.
According to Nelson, the average salary for private home employees is about $13.50. This applies to both attendants and kitchen or maintenance staff.
"I think it's time for employers to recognize all the work these people do for seniors," she said.
When the strike mandate was announced at the end of June, 11 private seniors' residences were involved. However, the union decided not to strike at the Aviva Residence in Quebec because an offer has just been filed by a mediator.
In the case of other institutions, Nelson hopes that employers will want to come back to the bargaining table and that they will understand that paying a living wage is not just an expense, but an investment.
She also noted that the community is experiencing a significant shortage of staff.
The affected residences are:
- CHSLD Herron, Montreal
- Residence Elogia (Maurice), Montreal
- Residence urbaine pour ainés Le Boulevard, Montréal
- Domaine des Forges, Laval
- Les Ecluses, Saint-Lambert
- L'Oasis Saint-Jean (cuisine, Chartwell), Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu
- Appartements du Chateau de Bordeaux (Chartwell), Quebec
- Domaine Notre-Dame (Chartwell), Gatineau
- Manoir Champlain, Saguenay
- Jazz Levis (Cogir), Levis is holding a three-day strike