CARLOW childcare workers have called for government action to address low pay, which is leading to skilled staff leaving the sector. SIPTU members voiced their deep dissatisfaction with the current funding model for the early-years sector and the issues of poverty pay, no provision for sick pay and pension and the high cost for parents.
SIPTU has launched a campaign called ‘Big Start’ to transform the early-years sector.
“Low pay is driving qualified, committed early-years teachers out of the sector,” said Sarah Taylor from Borris, who works in a community pre-school. “The level of staff turnover means that quality education and care is being compromised.”
The issue will affect not just workers but families, too.
“If the services are not sustainable, what is going to happen in the future? We want to go forwards, not backwards … we are still in the sector because we know the importance of it. That is why we are there. Many working full time are on burn out; they are exhausted, and they are taking home less than the living wage,” said Sarah.
She added: “Our sector stood up during the pandemic and were back to work, allowing parents to continue to work and serve our society throughout lockdown. It’s time to acknowledge our contribution by ensuring respect for our profession, and that means pay that reflects our experience and qualifications. We expect pay negotiations under the JLC will address our issues, but funding must be there to ensure it can.”
Carlow and Kilkenny childcare activists along with SIPTU organiser Lenka Halouzkova met Sinn Féin TD and spokeswoman for children and youth affairs Kathleen Funchion and asked her to support SIPTU’s ‘New deal for early years’, which demands an allocation of €150 million to address pay and childcare costs in the 2022 budget.
Deputy Funchion said: “For far too long, early-years educators have been taken for granted by this state. The SIPTU members I’ve met today do some of the most important work in society and cannot be overlooked in budget 2022. I and my party, Sinn Féin, are more than willing to support their fight for professional pay and conditions. These ladies are in the vanguard of the fight for better pay and conditions and all early-years teachers should get organised and join the campaign.”