The trade unions representing workers in early years education from the public (younion) and private sectors (vida and GPA-djp) have joined with the trade union confederation (ÖGB) in publishing an open letter setting five key questions for the government to answer. In the light of the continuing pandemic and the challenges faced by workers in the sector so far, the unions want to know about plans for nationwide COVID testing; what regulations will apply on vaccination of staff; what measures are planned to contain the virus; when workers will receive a bonus for the extra efforts they have
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 FNV trade union’s campaign for urgent action on workloads in childcare has been stepped up with some regional mobilisations cancelled in order to concentrate on a national strike on 8 July. The union is angry that calls for increased staffing and reduced numbers of children per worker have fallen on deaf ears and the employers have offered nothing to address the problem.
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
Trade unions representing workers in public and private sector childcare and after-school provision organised a demonstration outside the ministry of education on 27 May in protest at the failure of the government to include trade unions in the Advisory Board for Elementary Education. The unions argue that it is unacceptable not to ensure that the views of the 61500 workers in the sector are taken into account when developing education policy, particularly in the light of the exceptional commitment they have shown during the pandemic.
A survey of student early years educators, carried out by the SIPTU trade union, found that one third intended to leave the sector, with low pay the main issue forcing them into a change of career or into working abroad. A massive 94% of students don’t believe the current wages in the sector are fair. Of the 945 people surveyed, over half are currently working in the sector as well as studying and of these 47% are earning below the living wage of €12.30 per hour. The union wants to see a publicly funded model of early years education and childcare which includes a mechanism for ensuring
Several unions representing workers in early years education came together on 5 May in a day of strike action and a demonstration in Brussels. Workers are angry about the impact of the pandemic on the sector and the failure of the authorities in the Wallonia and Brussels regions to address their concerns. The unions were also demanding a revaluation of pay in the sector and a range of other measures to deal with staffing issues, leave, contracts and increased public funding.
Public service union, younion has joined with private service unions GPA and vida as well as the ÖGB trade union confederation and Chamber of Labour to call on the government to take urgent steps to increase training in the childcare and after-school care sector. The unions point out that inadequate staffing levels were apparent before the pandemic but have become more acute and overburdened staff need the reassurance that newly trained staff will soon be recruited. They underline the fact that many workers in the sector are thinking about leaving and that a wave of retirements is also
A new agreement between unions, employers and the Flemish government has delivered a range of benefits for workers in various health and social services in the non-profit sector. Overall, there will be the equivalent of 3,716 new posts to help tackle high workloads. There will be a general 1.7% increase in wages but with some additional increases for those on the lowest pay rates and those will long service. In elderly care, the rehabilitation sector, psychiatric care homes and sheltered living initiatives, there will be a new pay structure from 1 July 2021, bringing pay rates in alignment
Trade unions in the childcare sector organised a day of action on 30 March in protest at government proposals that they say would lead to a deterioration in service quality and working conditions. The unions are concerned about the prospect of an increase in staff/children ratios and failure to address issues related to skills, pay and career development. Meanwhile, in the latest stage of their campaign against the restructuring of the energy sector, the four trade unions – FNME-CGT, CFE-CGC Énergies, FO Énergie et Mines and FCE-CFDT – have called for a day of strike action and protests on 8
The government has put forward a proposal to set up a joint labour committee (JLC) that would determine minimum pay and working conditions for the childcare sector. Currently there is no sector bargaining covering childcare workers and unions have been campaigning for years to tackle low pay and precarious employment. JLCs are independent bodies that exist in sectors like security and cleaning where there is no sector bargaining. They issue employment regulation orders (ERO) setting minimum pay rates and conditions. SIPTU says that a JLC would provide an opportunity for the union and the IBEC
The SIPTU trade union has just published findings from a survey of early years professionals showing that 43% of childcare workers are actively seeking another job due to low pay levels in the sector. The findings also show that 90% of workers struggle to make ends meet, 77% have no work sick pay scheme and just 10% receive paid maternity leave from their employer. More than seven in 10 workers have found dealing with COVID stressful while just over nine in 10 would consider leaving the profession in the next five years if there are no improvements in pay and conditions.
The ver.di trade union has warned of problems being created in childcare institutions because of a lack of clarity and consistency in rules that should apply during the current pandemic. The union says that it isn’t right to leave it up to parents and the local management of childcare facilities to decide on their own rules and this fails to ensure planned approach to address the incidence of the virus among children and the increase in sickness among staff. Ver.di argues that the plan adopted by the city of Bremen provides a good example of what is needed to be negotiated at national level in
The vida and GPA-djp trade unions have negotiated increases for minimum pay rates for workers in private childcare institutions that are not covered by collective agreements. Teachers and staff get a 1.95% while assistants will get a 2% increase. The unions are pleased that the increases are slightly above inflation and the trend in other agreements. Childminders will get a 2.5% rise and will now be entitled to an increase after every two years rather than three.