1.30pm, Place de la Bastille in Paris, white T-shirts with the hashtag “#amavraievaleur” gather in front of the Opera. Cardboard posters “The diaper is full”, “Many small ones, but no big ones” with capital letters and grumpy emoticons appear above the crowd. This Thursday about fifty women, all working in the early childhood field, decided to go on strike. They joined the national demonstration of the territorial civil service, which had gathered at the call of the CGT.
Several women from the National Union of Early Childhood Professionals (SNPPE), which was formed less than two years ago, joined the procession. On everyone’s lips the word “To stop» or the sentence « cit is no longer possible“. One of them addresses us with a grimace: “Write well that the cup is full.” Cathy Ligère, member of the SNPPE office, agrees: “It’s been a while since Working conditions in day care centers are demeaning.» 5 years, “even ten years”, According to her colleague Blandine Leroy, director of a Paris multi-reception center, she has been in the industry for more than twenty years.
Blame them for the latest laws concocted by governments. Like the “Morano Decree”, which since 2010 has authorized crèches to hire more unskilled workers – up to 60% of the staff – and take in more children. To receive grants from the Family Allowance Fund (CAF), public and private daycare centers must meet “maximum” her building. “Everything is done to optimize the utilization of the premises. It’s profitability at all costsconfirms Lucie Robert, 35, childcare worker in Chalon-sur-Saône (Saône-et-Loire), contacted by phone, also volunteer at the SNPPE. As if care were a commodity.»
Rationed diapers and gloves
In the procession, Blandine Leroy and her friend Violène Dorison, a governess at a crèche in a Paris suburb, bravely sign the rain and the cold. “We have to carry our voice, that we exist”, they shout in unison. “We don’t want to become factories. Also foster homes for children, adds Blandine in relation to the Orpea scandal. When I hear about abuse in old people’s homes, I think it’s the same in our kindergartens.» are diapers “rationed”, They say cut gloves in half for better padding, count sheets, cradles and toys not renewed. “We don’t have time to look after the children.»
Blandine Leroy talks about how she leads the pot, the naps, the beak, the children’s tears. “Sometimes I have six babies crying at the same time, who all want to eat, but we’re just two caretakers at their bedside, she complains. You change the diaper. The other gives the bottle. The other four are all alone on the ground. And to add, with a closed face: “We don’t want to bring up the next generations like that.»
Lack of trained staff
Still, they could have hoped. In recent months, reports such as the September 2020 First 1,000 Days report presented by psychiatrist Boris Cyrulnik have targeted problems and outlined solutions. In particular, it is recommended that 70% of professionals be qualified and the childcare ratio reduced to one adult for five children. “You say to yourself, ‘Great, it’s progressing.’ Then we see that the government acts as if nothing happened.” continues Blandine Leroy.
She points to the most recent reform announced in December 2020 by Secretary of State for Child Protection Adrien Taquet, which makes child care rates more flexible. One adult can now care for six toddlers of all ages, compared to five babies who cannot walk and eight who walk. A ready-made solution to overcome the shortage of staff. This lack remains the problem “the loudest” to this day, according to the SNPPE. “The job, 99% feminized, no longer attracts‘ summarizes Blandine Leroy.
Consequences: Structures close, others reduce their hours. And unqualified employees are recruited at short notice. According to the union, graduates currently make up 40% of the workforce. That is why the organization wants the famous Ségur bonus – 183 euros net per month – which is first awarded to nursing staff and then to medical-social staff, to also be awarded to early childhood professionals. He also calls for more apprenticeships, larger budgets and a symbol and salary increase. A nanny doesn’t win “never more than 1,800 euros at the end of your career”, specifies Violène Dorison before being picked up by the procession towards Bercy.