A survey of student early years educators, carried out by the SIPTU trade union, found that one third intended to leave the sector, with low pay the main issue forcing them into a change of career or into working abroad. A massive 94% of students don’t believe the current wages in the sector are fair. Of the 945 people surveyed, over half are currently working in the sector as well as studying and of these 47% are earning below the living wage of €12.30 per hour. The union wants to see a publicly funded model of early years education and childcare which includes a mechanism for ensuring professional pay.
Union survey exposes problem of low pay in early years education
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The SIPTU services union has called on the government to commit to funding early years education in order to ensure a living wage for all childcare workers. The union says that, on average, early years educators are paid EUR 1.12 less than the living wage of EUR 12.30 an hour. SIPTU wants to see the living wage established as the minimum rate for all childcare workers as an important step in recognising the value of the profession and to begin to address turnover and staff shortages.
The SIPTU trade union has just published findings from a survey of early years professionals showing that 43% of childcare workers are actively seeking another job due to low pay levels in the sector. The findings also show that 90% of workers struggle to make ends meet, 77% have no work sick pay scheme and just 10% receive paid maternity leave from their employer. More than seven in 10 workers have found dealing with COVID stressful while just over nine in 10 would consider leaving the profession in the next five years if there are no improvements in pay and conditions.
The trade unions representing workers in early years education from the public (younion) and private sectors (vida and GPA-djp) have joined with the trade union confederation (ÖGB) in publishing an open letter setting five key questions for the government to answer. In the light of the continuing pandemic and the challenges faced by workers in the sector so far, the unions want to know about plans for nationwide COVID testing; what regulations will apply on vaccination of staff; what measures are planned to contain the virus; when workers will receive a bonus for the extra efforts they have