Quebec law preventing unionization of home-based day care workers struck down

Unions hail court’s ruling that gives at-home workers the same right to unionize as other workers in Quebec’s subsidized day care system

Quebec day care workers who work at home will now be able to join a union, after the Quebec Superior Court ruled a provincial law preventing them from doing so was unconstitutional.

The province introduced subsidized child care in 1997, offering spots for as little as $5 a day. However, in 2003, it passed a law that prohibited at-home workers from joining a union. This froze out about 40 per cent of Quebec’s day care businesses from being able to take paid leaves, vacations or sick days because they are run out of private homes.

The Centrale des syndicates du Québec (CSQ) and other unions challenged the law, arguing it was unfair not only towards at-home day care workers but to women, since most of the province’s 15,000 home-based day care workers are women.

The court’s ruling means at-home day care workers can choose to join unions to ensure their workplace rights are represented through collective bargaining with the provincial government, the same as day care workers who are employed at more formal facilities. The CSQ said at-home day care workers put in more than 60 hours per week and get paid $14,000 per year from the government.

The CSQ said it planned to unionize 80 day care workers in Quebec premier Jean Charest’s Sherbrooke riding in the hopes he wouldn’t appeal the decision and abide by the court’s ruling.

“This is a historic judgment and a great victory for us,” Louise Chabot, vice president of the CSQ, told the

Montreal Gazette

. “This judgment gives (home-based day care workers) the right to be governed by the workplace norms, the workplace safety board and pay equity.”

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