Urgent Need for Labour’s Childcare Proposals
• SIPTU report showcases future threat to childcare due to disrespect shown to workers
Speaking following the launch of research by SIPTU’s Big Start campaign today, Labour spokesperson for children Ivana Bacik TD has said the time is now for the introduction of a public childcare model.
Deputy Bacik said:
“The report published by SIPTU and presented by Prof. Nóirín Hayes, Dr. Amy Greer Murphy and others today makes for stark reading. Early Years professionals, those tasked with educating our children at a key developmental age, are among the most undervalued workers in society. Pay is well below a Living Wage for many early years educators, who often also lack basic rights like sick pay and maternity pay.
“This is leading to low morale; 67% of workers report work-related stress and burnout. An overwhelming 90% in the sector say that they struggle to make ends meet. In the context of the cost of living crisis, the low pay crisis is made even more acute. I pay tribute to the Big Start campaign for producing this report, and for securing greater funds for the sector in Budget 2022. However, not enough of this funding is being used to pay early years staff a living income. As a result, Ireland faces a mass exodus from the sector.
“We need a Donogh O’Malley moment for childcare. I have long called for a publicly-funded, universal childcare scheme, which would be affordable for parents, and which would pay a decent wage to workers. In our alternative budget, Labour outlined fully-costed plans to do this, but the Government did not adopt our proposals.
“Addressing this is a basic issue of gender equality. Early Years professionals – 98% of whom are women – are bearing the brunt of an underfunded system which is bursting at the seams. History shows us that global disruptions usher in era-shaping change. Post Covid and in an economy hampered by inflation, the Government must step up for early years educators and for families and children.”