The FOA public services union has warned of the consequences of failing to maintain minimum staffing levels in childcare. It says that a survey of parents using childcare already reveals that 18% of parents have been affected by falling standards and reduced opening hours. FOA also quotes a television documentary that highlights the benefits to children of ensuring the minimum level of one childcare teacher per six children. Apart from the benefits to children the union also highlights the loss in tax revenue as the impact of fewer childcare places and reduced opening times equates to 5000 fewer workers in full-time employment.
Union highlights importance of staffing levels in childcare
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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.
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.
Following a national day of action on 18 June, workers in childcare, playgroups and after-school care will begin a campaign of industrial action in the Netherlands from 23 June. Different workplaces will be targeted at different times and various forms of strikes and other industrial action will be organised. The action is over excessive workloads and has been launched following the failure of the BMK and BK employer organisations to respond to an ultimatum from the FNV trade union. The union is warning that employees’ wellbeing is under threat and the quality of service will be compromised if