Public service union, younion has joined with private service unions GPA and vida as well as the ÖGB trade union confederation and Chamber of Labour to call on the government to take urgent steps to increase training in the childcare and after-school care sector. The unions point out that inadequate staffing levels were apparent before the pandemic but have become more acute and overburdened staff need the reassurance that newly trained staff will soon be recruited. They underline the fact that many workers in the sector are thinking about leaving and that a wave of retirements is also expected. The unions say that significant and urgent measures are needed and that the government response so far has been inadequate with a failure to address trade union demands.
Unions call for major boost to childcare training
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The public and private sectors unions representing staff in early years education (younion, vida and GPA) have come together to demand action at national level on staffing and safety in childcare institutions. The unions want to see unified, national regulations applied on issues like COVID-19 and increased staffing to ensure that childcare institutions can maintain safety for both workers and children. The pandemic is still having an impact and with staff falling ill or having to quarantine, the pressure of work continues to increase for an already overburdened group of workers.
SIPTU, the union that represents around 6000 workers in early years education, has welcomed the government’s decision to increase funding for the sector with an additional €69 million in the 2022 budget. With average pay at €11.91 an hour, the union is calling for urgent action on pay in order to tackle recruitment and retention in the sector where around four in 10 workers are looking for alternative employment. SIPTU is calling for pay talks to begin as soon as possible in the newly established Early Years Joint Labour Committee where a negotiated pay increase will be legally enforced.
A survey of childcare staff by the JHL public services reveals worrying levels of exhaustion among workers with more than half saying they experience it least weekly and more than 60% experiencing exhaustion every month. Some 70% of the more than 2200 respondents had been in the sector for more than 10 years. The union says the results are alarming and underline the urgent need for more staff to prevent a full-blown crisis. JHL also says that problems are caused by lack of support staff and inadequate cover when childcare staff are involved in planning. Furthermore, staff to child ratios that