The government has been urged to increase the remuneration of educators in the 2022 budget next week, after an Oireachtas committee learned that many of them have accepted a second or even a third job because they fail to make ends meet.
Siptu, which represents 6,000 childcare workers, told the committee that a lack of funding in the sector has left workers on “poverty wages” and service providers struggling with sustainability despite parents. paying some of the highest fees in Europe.
The demand for better pay came as activists separately declared that thousands of children from disadvantaged and marginalized families were discriminated against because unemployed parents were entitled to fewer or no subsidized childcare hours. .
Mick Kenny, a member of the national board of the Association of Childhood Professionals, said the National Childcare Scheme had pushed disadvantaged children into a “more vulnerable situation” because childcare assistance was denied to parents without use. “Children should not be used as pawns in broader government policy,” he told the Oireachtas committee on children.
“The state intentionally discriminates against children in order to motivate their parents / guardians to take up employment, education or training. Equal access to care and educational support is denied to children because of their parents. “
On the issue of working conditions, Darragh O’Connor, Siptu’s campaign manager, said one member said colleagues “were taking jobs as waitresses or bartenders because the pay is much better” while many employees worked a second job evenings and weekends.
Deborah Reynolds, a Siptu activist who works in the industry, said staff were in dire straits, left scrimping and saving, and were considering quitting their jobs.
“I constantly talk to colleagues across the country and have heard of an early childhood professional who works 39 hours a week in a full daycare, then goes to two 10-hour shifts in a restaurant on weekends. end. She gets better paid in restaurants and gets tips, which is how people survive, ”Ms. Reynolds said.
Any failure in the budget to provide significant new funding for compensation would lead people to resign. “You have to plug a leak next week and there must be money in the budget for salaries,” she told TDs and senators.
“If there is an improvement in salaries, you will stop the exodus of personnel from the sector.
Mr O’Connor cited research which suggests that 42% of early childhood professionals actively seek work outside the sector while 78% said they do not plan to stay there in 12 months “if the things stay the same “.
“Remuneration is by far the most important factor that pushes people to quit their profession. [78 per cent], stress monitoring [8 per cent]; 89 percent of early childhood professionals would not recommend an early childhood career to a friend or family member, ”he said.
What are the rates of pay?
He added that 55% of all staff working with children received an average of € 11.91 an hour, 99% less than the ‘living wage’ for Ireland. Managers and owner-managers received an average of € 15.28 per hour.
The committee also heard from the Aitheantas Adoption Rights Campaign Group that existing agencies to support adult adoptees are not fit for purpose.
Aitheantas’ Maree Ryan-O’Brien said very few respondents to a recent survey had a “positive experience” interacting with an agency responsible for supporting adult adoptees.
“We recommended that these existing agencies no longer be suited to their purpose and be replaced by a new agency with overall responsibility for these issues on the basis of the constitutional principles of fair procedures and centralization of the different facets of the same issue in a single agency. ,” she said.
“A new agency with a new model of social work is an essential part of the legislative process from closed adoption, the Clean Break / Clean Slate model, to a more transparent and Clean Access model.
“The legacy of this issue is still one of the shame, stigma and secrecy that still plagues adoptees, but it is also a legacy where the participation of all those directly affected has been restricted.”