The Covid-19 sanitary crisis exposes what we’ve known for a long time : in Switzerland, the care and education of children is only ensured by innumerable hours of work primarily assumed by mothers. The figures are right there : a billion workhours of childcare and education done for free at home, which represents a value of 248 billions of Swiss Francs per year ; 250 million hours per year (badly) paid in the education and care sector. And for all the women who have children, the Covid-19 sanitary crisis entails even more work and even more responsabilities. Without pay, without a reduced working time and, for many of them, without a fair share of domestic tasks, left to do most of the work. A dedicated holiday, some – well-deserved – applause, sure. But that’s not enough.
Today, we’re posting a video subtitled by us but made by a group of mothers and early childhood professionals from Bern (Eidgenössischen Kommission « Dini Mueter » /Commission fédérale « Ta mère »). More time, money and respect : their demands converge with ours.
Their work as mothers and early childhood professionals is done with love. And it is fine work. But why is this work worth nothing or very little when it comes to recognition in terms of wages, old age pension (AHV/AVS) or a reduction of working time without a reduction of family income so as to facilitate the sharing of said work ? We demand :
‘a shared parental leave lasting from 4 months to a year, in addition to 14 weeks of maternity leave funded by a cantonal parental allowance system introduced on a step-to-step basis before 2030 at the latest.
the right to decrease work hours after the birth of a child and/or an adoption without risking being fired as well as the right to regain your initial work hours without the loss of established social rights.
an affordable and accessible place at a nursery and after-school care service for every child with more qualified supervisory staff, better social and financial recognition of the staff and more funding.
a pledge from our canton to protect workers from termination for a year after their maternity/familial leave, on a cantonal level as well as on a federal level.
These demands are part of the cantonal demands set – before the Covid-19 sanitary crisis - by the Neuchâtel Collective for the feminist strike, that we will submit to our political authorities before the next session of the Neuchâtel Grand Conseil.
To sum up the points we’ve raised : in order to alleviate the work of every person that looks after children, we demand a strengthened public service, with sufficient qualified, well-trained and well-paid staff, but we also demand a reduction of working without a decrease in salary, so as to facilitate the sharing of the domestic education and care work dedicated to children.
text written for Collectif by Marianne Ebel and translated by Jillian Blandenier