(22 September 2020) On Thursday, 17 September, two speakers representing EPSU participated in a seminar jointly organized by the European cross-sectoral partners ETUC, BusinessEurope, CEEP and SME United. The topic was “Childcare provisions in the European Union”. The full day seminar brought together national and European policy-makers, researchers and social partners. It touched on many different aspects of childcare provision, such as gender imbalances, affordability, funding models, the role of collective bargaining and social dialogue as well as the role of the Barcelona targets. EPSU represented the voice of childcare workers and intervened twice, on funding and working conditions;
Darragh O‘Connor from SIPTU reported how a lack of public provision and a low level of state investment led to high fees and low pay in Ireland. Even where government did invest, a lack of regulation meant that there was no way to guarantee that this would also lead to higher salaries. To advocate for new and fairer funding models, SIPTU are currently running the Big Start Campaign - a big organising campaign in the Early Childhood Education and Care sector.
Similarly, Jakob Embacher from EPSU focused on salaries and working conditions. While the situation regarding the availability and accessibility of childcare differs significantly between countries, there is also a range of common challenges, especially on the topics of working conditions, salaries and staffing levels. Often times, low pay is also due to gender imbalances in the sector. EPSU’s report “She works hard for her money” was highlighted in this context, as it contains practical examples how collective bargaining can develop innovative approaches to tackle these gender gaps.