Following a national day of action on 18 June, workers in childcare, playgroups and after-school care will begin a campaign of industrial action in the Netherlands from 23 June. Different workplaces will be targeted at different times and various forms of strikes and other industrial action will be organised. The action is over excessive workloads and has been launched following the failure of the BMK and BK employer organisations to respond to an ultimatum from the FNV trade union. The union is warning that employees’ wellbeing is under threat and the quality of service will be compromised if
Early Childhood Education and Care
Early Childhood Education and Care is an important area of social services for EPSU which aims to work together with affiliates, civil society and others to ensure accessible, affordable and quality childcare in Europe. The overwhelmingly female workforce is undervalued and the improving of pay and working conditions across the sector is crucial along with lobbying and campaigning for increased public investment and funding. EPSU has set up an Early Childhood Education and Care network to enable affiliates that organised in the sector to coordinate and exchange information.
Excessive workloads and unpredictable hours will feature prominently in the childcare sector negotiations that began on 8 November. With a slogan that "we're not jacks of all trades" the FNV trade union highlighted the problem that childcare workers were overburdened with cleaning, administrative and other tasks rather than child care itself. The union will be looking for restrictions on the extent to which employers can ask childcare workers to change their working time at short notice. The main pay claim will be for a 3.5% pay rise for the 80000 workers in the sector.
Public services union IMPACT and general union SIPTU have welcomed a new parliamentary report that reveals the problems of low pay and poor working conditions in the early years sector. The unions are calling for increased investment and funding for the sector and action to tackle low pay with the need to set pay rates that recognise the responsibilities and qualifications of childcare workers, 98% of whom are women.
Good quality childcare and early years education are vital public services. However, they are often underfunded and, for many workers unaffordable, while childcare workers themselves, the vast majority of whom are women, are often undervalued and underpaid.At European level there is some recognition of the importance of childcare in increasing women’s employment and as a contribution to encourage gender equality. This meeting will debate these issues with a range of speakers including researchers, trade union representatives, employers, civil society and the European Commission.
(May 2017) Trade unions representing childcare workers in the private sector have negotiated a new pay agreement which is in line with the municipal sector. Overall worth about 2.4% the agreement includes a 2% increase on minimum rates taking the lowest pay rate to NOK 295900 a year (around EUR 31650). The agreement covers over 26000 workers in more than 1700 workplaces. Meanwhile a strike over pensions in the Akasia group of kindergartens went into its fourth week at the end of May with more workers joining the strike. Equality of pension provision for men and women is a key demand.
(June 2017) Public services union ver.di has called on the minister for youth and families to launch a major national initiative to extend and improve training for childcare workers. The union argues that this is needed to ensure that enough well-trained staff are available to cope with the planned increase of 100000 kindergarten places. The union also wants to see national action in relation to staffing levels to address the problem that the availability and quality of early years education can vary significantly from region to region.
The public services trade union, younion, collected 15000 signatures in a petition that it handed in to the parliament of the region of Lower Austria on 10 October. The petition calls for action to deal with the pay and working conditions of the 3000 childcare workers in the region. The union wants to see improvements to education and training in the sector as well as the development of a proper career structure. It is also calling for pay to be commensurate with the responsibilities and demands of the job. The union is expecting to be able to negotiate soon, although there is no offer on this
The FNV trade union has welcomed new data showing an increase of 56000 in the number of children benefitting from childcare places. The union says this good news has to be weighed against the main challenges facing the sector with many workers on precarious contracts, with variable hours and often facing high workloads. The union plans to raise the issues in the upcoming negotiations over a new collective agreement. The current agreement covers 80000 workers and expires in January. Negotiations are due to begin in November.
(January 2017) Employees at the Naturfidusen private childcare provider were not paid in December as the company went bankrupt. Public services union FOA also reported that another private care company had gone bankrupt taking the total to 36 since 2013. The union is concerned that increased pressure on municipalities to outsource these services will lead to more bankruptcies and more disruption and uncertainty for care workers.
(April 2017) The BDDSz childcare workers' trade union is supporting the ETUC's pay rise campaign. The union sees that many of the headline demands of the campaign - tackling low pay and the gender pay gap - fit with the union's priorities and it is encouraging members to show their support.
Unions organising childcare workers met in Brussels to exchange information on some of the main challenges they face to improve the quality of employment in the sector. Low pay, undervaluing of childcare work, precarious employment, work intensification, health and safety, staff shortages and inadequate career development were among the issues facing many unions in the sector.
Private childcare workers saw a 3% increase in the sector minimum wage from 1 January. The increase was negotiated by the vida and GPA-djp service trade unions with the Federal Arbitration Office. The increase takes the lowest wage level above EUR 1500 for the first time, reaching EUR 1514. There is also a provision to ensure that special payments continue to be fully paid in cases of long-term sickness or accidents at work. The unions are pleased that this is a good deal for the 10000 workers in the sector, the vast majority of whom are women.
The ver.di services union is arguing that a sector pay agreement is needed to cover workers involved in childcare, youth and family work and care for the disabled. It says that the problem faced by the sector is that many welfare-based and private providers fail to pay decent wages with some pay rates as much as a third less than those that apply in the public sector agreements. Ver.di is highly critical of low-paying employers who don't recognise that urgent action is needed to address the shortage of skilled staff, with an estimate that kindergartens alone will face a shortfall of 329000