This week, the EPSU Childcare Network met to discuss monitoring and evaluation of early childhood education and care, the capacity of ECEC systems to welcome Ukrainian children and ECEC staff, and child : staff ratios.
Gender pay gap, 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.
After three days of bargaining the ver.di services union has negotiated an agreement with the VKA municipal employers that goes some way to address the undervaluation and overwork of staff in social and educational services. The union thanked its members for mobilising to achieve the result in the face of considerable resistance from the employers. Over 40,000 ver.di members took action in the week leading up to the latest negotiations. The agreement will provide employees with two additional days off as well as the option to convert part of their salary into two further days off. Educators
Public and private sector unions representing workers in early years education, younion and GPA, have attacked government plans for the sector as farcical. They argue that the claim that there will be an extra billion euros in funding is a sham and that in reality the additional money is less than €60 million and already worth less because of inflation. The unions are also concerned that the aim is to create more childcare places when facilities are already full and staff overstretched. They also criticise the government for developing policies without proper consultation and negotiation with
The International Labour Organisation has published a report that shows that the higher the coverage of employees by collective agreements, the lower the wage differences are. Social Dialogue Report 2022: Collective bargaining for an inclusive, sustainable and resilient recovery is based on a review of collective agreements and practices in 80 countries and the legal and regulatory frameworks in 125 countries. It also provides evidence that collective bargaining can contribute to narrowing the gender pay gap with over half (59 per cent) the agreements reviewed in the study reflecting a joint
Public services union ver.di organised a nationwide day of action on 6 April for employees in day-care centres, and workers providing child, youth and disability care in non-profit organisations, including churches and private employers. Various initiatives were taken including lunchtime demonstrations and photo campaigns. The aim was to underline the importance of securing better pay and conditions for workers across the sector, making work more attractive and tackling staff shortages. While the current negotiations concern the 330,000 workers directly employed by the public sector, the
On 5 April the European Parliament (EP) voted in favour of a report on the gender pay transparency directive that includes important improvements to the European Commission’s draft proposal. There will be provisions on the protection of trade union rights for women workers, ensuring they can bargain collectively for equal pay; measures to deliver on the principle of equal pay for work of equal value and a ban on pay secrecy clauses. The ETUC thanked the rapporteurs for their work and called for the swift adoption of the improved directive by the Commission and Council. ETUC Deputy General
The UNISON and GMB trade unions have suspended the strike action that they had planned for 29 and 30 March after Glasgow City Council made significant concessions towards resolving the dispute over equal pay. However, strike action planned for 20 and 21 April remains in place. The dispute arose over the implementation of the 2019 deal on equal pay that delivered significant pay increases for the predominantly female workers in care, catering and cleaning services. The Council has now said the formula agreed in the 2019 deal will be applied to all jobs covered by the agreement and that it will
The GPA and vida private service trade unions organised an action in Vienna on 29 March as part of their campaign to win better pay and conditions for workers in early years education. Along with better pay to help attract new staff the unions want action to reduce workloads, improve staff:child ratios and major investment in training. GPA and vida underline the need for national initiatives on pay structure and funding to reduce the different approaches from region to region.
The Tehy and SuPer trade unions representing nurses and other medical staff have set out plans for strike action to give impetus to the negotiations in health and social services. The two unions want to see positive action on salaries and have set out a five-year rescue programme for the health and social services sector. This includes increases to the basic wage level of 3.6% annually in addition to the normal contract increases that protect purchasing power. With women making up 90% of the care workforce, the unions argue that this is an essential measure to address the persistent gender pay
Thousands of council workers in Glasgow in Scotland could be taking strike action on 29 and 30 March unless the local authority responds to demands settle a dispute over equal pay. In 2019, following a union campaign involving strike action, Glasgow council agreed a £500m settlement of equal pay claims up until March 2018 and included a new pay and grading system to rectify issues of unequal pay, primarily of women. Since then, around 5,500 new claims have been lodged for the period prior to March 2018, with nearly 20,000 claimants waiting on settlements for the period after that. The unions
Younion, representing staff in early years education and care (ECEC) in the public sector is organising protests across the country on 21 March in its continuing campaign to win improvements to the pay and conditions of workers in the sector. The union wants to see administrative tasks reduced and more support staff recruited to give workers more time with the children in their care. The other key demands cover increased recruitment overall, improved training, proper recognition of work in the sector, recognition of COVID-19 as an occupational disease and better representation of workers and
Negotiations between the ver.di service union and the VKA local government employers’ association took place on 25 February but were suspended with no proposals from the employers on how to improve pay and conditions for workers involved in early years education and social services. The union is concerned that urgent action is needed to deal with the shortage of 173,000 skilled workers in day-care centres alone but the VKA has rejected union proposals to reduce workloads. Ver.di believes that there was a constructive atmosphere in the negotiations but there were no concessions from the
Service union ver.di is highlighting the essential role played by social care and early years education in the lead up to the resumption of negotiations that were suspended in March 2020. The union argues that workers in the sector were indispensable during the pandemic and their contribution needs to be recognised in relation to pay and working conditions. Ver.di underlines that the predominantly female workforce faces low recognition of their skills and competences, poor working conditions, low salaries, fixed-term contracts and part-time work. The challenges facing the sector are made worse
The ETUC says that, according to the European Commission’s own figures, two thirds of European workers would be excluded from coverage by the pay transparency directive. The current proposal would limit gender pay reporting to organisations with over 250 staff. The impact would be even broader in countries like Estonia and Latvia where higher percentages of workers are employed by small firms and just one in five workers would be covered by the directive. These are also two of the countries with the highest gender pay gaps. Italy (79%), Cyprus (83%) and Greece (88%) are the three countries
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.