Kathleen Funchion TD supports ACP and Early Years sector's demand for fair pay and working conditions
Speaking today at the Association of Childcare Professionals ‘Day of Action’, Sinn Féin’s Spokesperson on Childcare Kathleen Funchion said that the Government seems clueless that those working in the sector are at complete crisis point.
"Early years staff are the backbone of the sector. The hundreds in attendance today were there in protest at the poor levels of investment in the sector, which leads to low wages and an unsustainability for providers.
"The hard truth is that none of Minister’s Zappones Budget 2017 proposals for new schemes are relevant without a secure and properly staffed workforce to carry out the work.
"The ACP’s 'Day of Action' was attended by providers and staff who are demanding fair pay for the work that they do. The staffing crisis, which is growing, inevitably impacts on the level of provision that is available to parents as the poor pay and working conditions do not incentivise staff to stay or attract new entrants. The failure of the government to increase capitation levels in Budget 2017 means those poor working conditions within the profession remain.
"Currently, most staff are earning minimum wage or less in exchange for the crucial role they play in children’s early development. This has to change. While we welcome some of the proposals the Minister has introduced such as 1.4 weeks paid- non contact time for providers, this in no way tackles the scale of the problem where staff are working so many more hours unpaid. Without further substantial investment this is seen by many as no more than a tokenistic gesture towards the sector.
"We support the call for a 60% graduate-led ECCE workforce by 2025. But the government must match that call with realistic way of achieving that percentage. It is only by paying staff fair wages and acknowledging their work via fair pay that people will be encouraged to remain and upskill.
"Minister Zappone spoke passionately at the ACP’s previous protest in February 2015 about the critical need to improve conditions for professionals working in the sector. She now has the opportunity as Minister for Children and Youth Affairs to demand the investment they deserve."