Good quality childcare and early years education are vital public services. However, they are often underfunded and, for many workers unaffordable, while childcare workers themselves, the vast majority of whom are women, are often undervalued and underpaid.At European level there is some recognition of the importance of childcare in increasing women’s employment and as a contribution to encourage gender equality. This meeting will debate these issues with a range of speakers including researchers, trade union representatives, employers, civil society and the European Commission.
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 KKDSz culture workers' union and BDDSz childcare workers' union have been instrumental in getting the SZEF public sector confederation to launch a campaign on public service pay. The confederation is highlighting low pay and understaffing across the public services and the need for negotiations on long-term pay development in the public sector. It calls for action on corruption and the need for a redistribution of government spending to workers to ensure a fully staffed and professional public service delivering quality services.
Access to quality health, care and education and fairer and better tax, benefit and social protection systems are among some of the positive elements in the European Commission’s 2019 Annual Growth Survey (AGS) that was published on 21 November.
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 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 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.
Around 10000 childcare workers in private institutions will see their pay increase by at least 3% this month as new regulations introduced by the labour ministry are implemented. Those on lower pay rates will get a 3.3% increase with a minimum of EUR 50. The pay rises are welcomed by the vida and GPA-djp trade unions that see these as a significant improvement for the women-dominated sector and as a contribution to tackle pay inequality. There will also be new rules to allow appropriate experience in similar work, including time worked in other countries, to be taken into account in career
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
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
The FNV trade union has negotiated a new two-year collective agreement covering 80000 workers in the childcare sector. The agreement is backdated to 1 January 2018 and includes a pay rise of 5.25% over two years with 2.25% paid from 1 July this year along with a lump sum payment of EUR 185. Many workers in the sector work very few hours and are expected to be available to work at short notice. The agreement includes important provisions to regulate this with an extra day of work for those not working full-time and minimum two weeks' notice of work schedules. There are also proposals to tackle
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.