On 6-7 June, EPSU is holding a second conference in Brussels in the context of its current project on quality employment and quality public services. Along with special sessions looking at the prisons and childcare sectors there will also be debates on pay trends in the public sector compared to the private sector; low pay in sectors dominated by women; young workers and quality employment; a panel on developments in collective bargaining and some initial research findings on the impact of digitalisation on the home care and public employment services.
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.
On 13th March, over 40 trade union representatives from all over Europe took part in EPSU’s Social Services Working Group which met to discuss a number of issues that are key to defend and protect the rights, terms and conditions and dignity of workers in the sector.
A new report from the Kommunal local government union paints a positive picture of pre-school education but reveals increased pressure on staff, a failure to ensure appropriate staffing levels and an excessive use of fixed-term contracts. The report is based on a large survey of Kommunal members and interviews with 3352 childcare workers. The survey found that 39% of childcare workers found their work mentally exhausting, up by 15% since 2012. The union wants to see proper application of the official guidelines on staff/child ratios and an increase in the number of staff on permanent contracts
Low pay, understaffing, inadequate opportunities for training and career development, increasing administrative work and health and safety issues are among some of the main challenges facing workers in childcare according to new research commissioned by EPSU. As part of a European Commission-funded project, "Quality Employment and Quality Public Services", EPSU asked the HIVA research unit at Leuven University to carry out four country case studies, investigating the situation of childcare workers in Bulgaria, Italy, Sweden and the UK. There were also positive developments in relation to the
EPSU is organising a conference on 6-7 June in Brussels that will explore a number of collective bargaining issues. Part of the conference will focus on quality employment and will discuss in particular research on quality employment in two sectors - prisons and childcare. Other sessions will debate new research commissioned by EPSU. This includes an updated analysis comparing pay trends in the public and private sectors; union action to tackle low pay in sectors dominated by women and the impact of digitalisation in home care and public employment services. There will also be a panel debating
In advance of the third round of pay negotiations, a series of warning strikes by employees of the Red Cross have been taking place across the country to show the level of support for a decent pay rise. Public services union ver.di is calling for a pay rise of 7.5% with a minimum increase of EUR 200 a month. So far the employers have only offered a EUR 220 lump sum payment and a 2.4% increase this year with a further rise of 2.2% in July 2019. Ver.di says that the agreement should reflect current pay bargaining trends and should also include provisions on work-life balance and health that
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has produced a new report arguing for a doubling of investment in the care sector to prevent a global care crisis. It says that investment on this scale could create 269 million new jobs by 2030 and provide a major boost to women's employment while addressing massive gender inequality in unpaid care. The ILO estimates that over 600 million women want paid employment but are prevented from entering the labour market because of their caring responsibilities. The report underlines the need for a "high road" to increase care provision which means
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.
The SOMK education, culture and media union organised demonstrations in Zagreb and Rijeka to protest against plans to raise the retirement age for childcare workers from 65 to 67. The union argues that the change fails to recognise the nature of work in the sector and the increasing mental and physical demands made on childcare workers. EPSU sent a message of solidarity as did the BDDSz childcare workers from Hungary.
The Fagforbundet public services union has criticised private childcare companies for making excessive profits at the expense of the children and childcare workers. Private operators tend to employ fewer workers than municipal childcare providers, with employees often on lower pay rates and with poorer pension entitlement. The union welcomes the fact that a new law in effect on 1 August will require one childcare worker per three children aged 0-3 and one for every six children aged 3-5. Fagforbundet's priorities are now to get changes to the financing system for private childcare, win better
The Kommunal municipal workers' union is celebrating a successful mobilisation of workers to secure changes to the pre-school curriculum. The first draft of the curriculum had nothing to say about the role of childcare workers and so Kommunal used its influence on the ministry of education while its members ensured that childcare workers were the biggest group providing input into the curriculum consultation. The revised curriculum now acknowledges the key role of childcare workers and is seen by the union as an important step in furthering the professional status of the occupation.
The SIPTU general workers' union has welcomed new government intiatives on funding and regulation of the childcare sector which it believes will help improve children's safety and the quality of care. However, the union argues that urgent action is needed to tackle low pay and precarious employment in the sector. SIPTU says with average pay at only EUR 10.88 an hour, there are significant recruitment and retention problems as reflected in a staff turnover rate of just over 28%.The union wants to see a major overhaul of funding for the sector to provide the basis of decent pay for such