The government has put forward a proposal to set up a joint labour committee (JLC) that would determine minimum pay and working conditions for the childcare sector. Currently there is no sector bargaining covering childcare workers and unions have been campaigning for years to tackle low pay and precarious employment. JLCs are independent bodies that exist in sectors like security and cleaning where there is no sector bargaining. They issue employment regulation orders (ERO) setting minimum pay rates and conditions. SIPTU says that a JLC would provide an opportunity for the union and the IBEC employers’ organisation to engage in negotiations on an ERO which could ultimately establish long-awaited binding rates of pay and conditions for the sector.
Union welcomes proposal on childcare sector pay
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The vida services union has negotiated a 3% pay increase that will cover around 5000 childcare assistants working in private institutions and take the minimum wage in the sector to EUR 1611 a month. Pay for this group of workers is regulated by the ministry of social affairs. There will also be a 3% increase on additional payments and a new pay level for workers with 31 years of service or more.
The JHL public service union that represents 22000 workers in childcare has called for major changes to the draft law on early years education and care. The union argues that the proposals wrongly target changes in qualifications and employment structure in the sector rather than dealing with the fundamental issues of numbers of staff and staff:children ratios. The union warns that the suggested and unnecessary educational requirements will cause major employment problems in the sector.
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.