SIPTU has included a demand for a mandatory Living Wage and sick pay scheme for workers as part of its pre-budget submission for the childcare sector, launched today, Monday.
The measures are designed to ensure that children and families are offered the best protection possible during the Covid-19 crisis.
The Early Years Sector Profile Report 2018/2019 produced by the state funding agency, Pobal, showed that ‘Early Years Assistants’ earn on average just €11.46 per hour, 84c below the Living Wage of €12.30.
SIPTU Head of Organising, Darragh O’Connor, said: “In recent months it has become clear to all that childcare is one of the most essential sectors of the economy. It is a sector upon which the proper operation of other industries and services relies.
“In order to ensure that the sector provides the best protection against the spread of Covid-19 in the winter months it is essential that improvements, for which SIPTU has been campaigning over several years, are finally introduced in Budget 2021.
“These include the introduction of a mandatory Living Wage and sick pay scheme for workers across the sector as well as improvements in pay and other conditions. The failure to introduce these reforms is undermining Covid-19 control measures in creches.
“The key infection control policy in childcare services is the ‘play pod’. Each play pod is comprised of a group of children and an adult who remains with that group as a key worker. However, poor pay and conditions have resulted in an average staff turnover rate of 40% in full day services. This high turnover of staff undermines the play pod policy due to changes in key workers and increases the possibility of Covid-19 outbreaks.
“Furthermore, 79% of Early Years professionals do not have a sick pay scheme at work. The lack of a sick pay increases the risk of Covid-19 transmission. The mistakes made in nursing homes and meat factories are being made again in childcare services.”
“SIPTU, which represents thousands of childcare workers, is calling on the Government to introduce a guarantee of a Living Wage of €12.30 per hour and a minimum of five days paid sick pay for workers in Budget 21.”