Early Childhood Education and Care, Privatisation
Fighting privatisation and defending public services
Across Europe the quantity and quality of our public services and the pay and conditions of our members are under threat from privatisation. EPSU is committed to fighting privatisation in any of its forms whether contracting-out and sub-contracting, public-private partnerships or various processes of commercialisation or marketisation. This briefing on privatisation was produced for the EPSU Congress in 2019 and covers the main work done over the last Congress period and the priorities for the current period.
Public and private sector efficiency is an important report that provides a comprehensive overview of academic research that challenges the idea that the private sector is more efficient than the public sector. The future is public is the latest update on insourcing highlighting the trends to bring privatised services back under public ownership and control.
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.
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
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
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.
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
The Kommunal municipal services union has published an updated version of its regular report comparing pay and conditions in public and private elder care. The data comes from official statistics and the union’s survey of members. The latest figures show that full-time employees in municipally run elderly care earn an average of SEK 2,400 (€230) more per month than those in private elderly care providers. In 2020, the share of part-time employees was 70% among private providers, compared to 54% in municipally run elderly care and for temporary workers it was 41% in private companies and 31% in
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 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.
Childcare workers in the private sector who are covered by pay regulations rather than a collective agreement are getting a 3.2% pay increase following negotiations led by the GPA and vida trade unions. Meanwhile, full-time workers in private health and social care are now entitled to a 37-hour week as of 1 January. This was the result of earlier negotiations by the GPA and vida unions and reflects their long-running campaign to tackle overwork in the sectors. The unions are also determined to continue their efforts to reduce working time with a target of a 35-hour week.
A survey of childcare staff by the JHL public services reveals worrying levels of exhaustion among workers with more than half saying they experience it least weekly and more than 60% experiencing exhaustion every month. Some 70% of the more than 2200 respondents had been in the sector for more than 10 years. The union says the results are alarming and underline the urgent need for more staff to prevent a full-blown crisis. JHL also says that problems are caused by lack of support staff and inadequate cover when childcare staff are involved in planning. Furthermore, staff to child ratios that