With reluctance, members of Local 441, Les Tournesols de Saint-Vital filed a strike notice for Monday, September 26 with their employer yesterday.

Members of the Local are Early Childhood Educators, responsible for creating a safe and engaging environment for 150 young children at the child care centre.

The Local has been at the negotiating table for almost a year, but the employer has not provided an offer during this time that will help attract and retain qualified staff.

Child care centres in Manitoba are currently eligible for government funding to improve wages and working conditions for child care workers and the bargaining proposals put forth by Local 441 are based on this funding to create sustainable, fair wages. Unfortunately, instead of working with the Local, the employer has not accessed these funds and continues to demand significant cuts to the members’ benefits, including sick leave and vacation.

During an information picket held outside the centre yesterday, MGEU representatives distributed leaflets to parents to provide notice of the possible job action and answer any questions they may have.

“Right now the employer should be doing everything they can to find ways to attract and keep qualified workers at the centre, not cutting benefits like sick leave, which only encourages workers to look elsewhere. It’s the wrong way to go. As a parent, I wouldn't want my child's educator to work when they’re sick because they don’t have any sick leave,” said MGEU President, Kyle Ross.

“With this notice, we’re giving the employer another opportunity to do the right thing and treat these workers fairly. We also wanted to give parents some time to make alternative child care arrangements. If the employer refuses to treat workers fairly, we will have little choice but to take strike action.”

Parents have been asked to contact the child care centre Board of Directors and ask them to withdraw their demands for cuts to sick leave and vacation, and to access the government funding for improved wages and working conditions for staff at Les Tournesols.