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.
The trade union-linked Hans Böckler research organisation has published a new survey uncovering worrying gaps in childcare provision across the country. It says that 10 years after the legal right to childcare from the age of one came into force, there is a shortage of childcare places. Further, it reveals that a large proportion of working or job-seeking parents who officially have a place for their child don’t have reliable care, with 57% confronted with reductions in childcare hours and/or even temporary closures of facilities due to staff shortages this spring. Two-thirds of those surveyed
EPSU affiliates Fagforbundet and Delta, along with other unions, have been involved in negotiating a series of similar pay deals for workers covered by different private sector collective agreements. Assistants and skilled workers in the PBL group of kindergartens got a NOK 25800 (€2200) addition on annual salaries while teachers and education leaders received NOK 30000 (€2560). The overall cost increase of 5.4% is in line with the public sector increase. A 5.4% rise will also cover childcare facilities run by Norlandia which has moved to the agreement negotiated by the Spekter employers’
A trade union alliance involving the CNE, CSC Services Publics, CGSP, SETCA, CGSLB and SLPF coordinated a demonstration in Brussels on 26 April to raise concerns about the state of childcare provision. The protest involved a delegation meeting with the minister for children and health in the Brussels-Wallonia Federation with demands to tackle the long-standing problems of understaffing and precarious work and to prevent the extension of private, for-profit provision across the sector. The union were supported by non-profit providers in the sector.
Following a successful strike over pensions at the PBL employers’ organisation, the Fagforbundet trade union has managed to secure improved occupational pensions for employees in kindergartens covered by the NHO Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise. The four-week strike in NHO companies ended on 17 March with negotiations guaranteeing that the portion of public subsidies intended for pension purposes will be fully applied and that savings rates for pensions will also be guaranteed rather than varying from one kindergarten to another. The deal also means that employers are not tempted to
Health workers were involved in warning strikes across the country on 14 and 15 March as the ver.di trade union builds support for its negotiations covering 2.5 million workers in federal and local government. The union is seeking a pay rise of 10.5% with a minimum increase of €500 a month. There was also action by workers in early years education and other social services to coincide with International Women’s Day on 8 March.
EPSU Social Services Working Group discussed effective collective bargaining coverage of social care workers in Central and Eastern Europe, the European Commission’s Skills and Talent Package and other topics.
Following successful strike action in private childcare providers last autumn represented by the PBL employers’ organisation, the Fagforbundet trade union is again calling its members out on strike this time in the companies that are part of the NHO employers’ organisation. The aim is to ensure that workers in NHO companies are entitled to pensions on the same basis as municipal workers and those in the PBL agreement. This means a pension guaranteed for life and on a gender-equal basis and with some protection against the fluctuations of the stock market. Strikes began in a first group of
A one-day strike by ver.di members at airports around the country took place on 17 February partly in support of the negotiations in federal and municipal government and partly in support of separate negotiations in ground handling services and aviation security. On 13 February, ver.di members around the country submitted early years education plans to local archives and museums as a gesture to highlight that they are currently impossible to implement. The union estimates that childcare services currently lack of 170,000 trained staff. Ver.di has also negotiated an agreement on staffing at the
The public services union ver.di has published early results of a major study of workers in social services that reveals the high risks of burnout and exhaustion faced by many workers in the sector. The survey covers more than 8,200 employees in childcare, disability assistance, youth welfare offices and other areas of social work. It found that since the pandemic many employees often skip the legally required rest breaks and 40% stated that they regularly work three or more hours overtime a week as well. Over 65% of respondents say that they are under time pressure at work, with more than 80%
The SuPer health and care union has published findings from a survey of workers in early years education that found more than half (53%) of respondents felt that the quality of service had deteriorated over the past five years with insufficient staff seen as the main problem. Over 1,000 union members replied to the survey, with 88% saying that they had experienced staff shortages in their work unit on at least a monthly basis. They survey also found that the increase in other tasks meant that workers had less time for direct contact with children. Almost 80% of respondents are considering
After a month of strike action, the Fagforbundet, Delta and education trade unions have been able to secure an agreement with the PBL private childcare employers’ organisation on new pension arrangements. Workers will be able to build up a lifetime contractual pension from 1 January 2025 which will be comparable to that available to municipal employees. In addition, the percentage rate paid by employees for their own occupational pension will be reduced from 3% to 2.5% per cent in 2023, then down to 2% per cent when the new scheme is established. The employer's share is increased accordingly.