Several unions representing workers in early years education came together on 5 May in a day of strike action and a demonstration in Brussels. Workers are angry about the impact of the pandemic on the sector and the failure of the authorities in the Wallonia and Brussels regions to address their concerns. The unions were also demanding a revaluation of pay in the sector and a range of other measures to deal with staffing issues, leave, contracts and increased public funding.
Childcare workers take action over pay, safety and staffing
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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.
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
Public services union younion joined with the GPA-djp and vida private services unions in a protest outside a meeting of the advisory council on early years education. Supported by the ÖGB confederation and Chamber of Labour, the unions expressed their disappointment that they weren't involved in the council which was set to make important recommendations that would affect the 61500 workers in the sector. The unions argue that the COVID-19 pandemic has underlined the importance of the sector and are calling for national quality standards, including staffing levels, to be introduced to end the