Scéalta – The Early Childhood Ireland Blog

< Back to Blog

We need to talk about trade unions

By: DEBORAH REYNOLDS

Tuesday 16 October 2018

There is a feeling of crisis in the Irish childcare sector. Early years professionals are experiencing burn-out, low pay, unaffordable housing and precarious contracts. Providers suffer the stresses of high turnover, low levels of funding, unfair commercial rates and frustration due to lack of consultation.

Many of these issues have been highlighted in Early Childhood Ireland's 2019 pre-Budget submission Rising to the Challenge. An apt title because, despite the challenges in the sector, we have persevered over the past two decades; through regulations, frameworks and professionalisation along with new demands of our role annually. However, to quote one 30-year veteran of the childcare sector (who prefers not be named), 'All these things happened, but the money never came for us.' Therein lies the problem: our sector cannot flourish while staff are paid so little.

The childcare sector was described in the 1999 Ready to Learn White Paper as low paid with 'low status, with a lack of career structure that has caused difficulty retaining experienced qualified staff.' In their 2017 report, Urban et al. found that the sector needed 'enhanced pay and status, and a reduction in turnover to retain good people.' Little has changed since 1999, and the government does not have a plan. They have stated 'we are not the employer.' This statement infuriates many; however, the fact remains that the government is not our employer and it cannot intervene on pay. We need to do this for ourselves through one united voice: we need to join a trade union.

Trade unions are an unknown factor in our sector. Some people may be apprehensive or confused about what a trade union can do for us. Others may be so demoralised that they don’t believe anything will ever change. It is important to acknowledge those feelings, but it is also important that early years professionals have the facts. A trade union can work to unite our fragmented sector and to define our common issues. It will work to resolve these issues, along with other progressive voices in the sector, to get a breakthrough on the funding and pay we need.

Bryson and Forth outline how joining a trade union has many benefits for employers and employees - lower turnover; increased workplace innovation; higher pay; a workplace pension; and paid on the job training. Everyone is entitled to be a member of a trade union, and membership is protected by the Unfair Dismissals Act. There is also a clause in the Industrial Relations Act that allows for confidential membership. Minister Zappone supports the unionisation of the sector. She has stated in the Seanad that she would like to see 'greater numbers joining the union, to create a pathway to increased investment.'

The pathway we need for increased investment could come in the form of an SEO (Sectoral Employment Order). Minister Zappone has stated in the Dáil that she would support an SEO to ensure 'an outcome agreeable to all.' An SEO is a legislative tool that can set down the minimum pay and conditions for a group of employees. When 30% of the sector is in membership, a trade union can apply to the Labour Court for an SEO; the court then produces a recommendation that is sent to the government. It is important to note that the Labour Court cannot, by law, make a recommendation that might in any way be harmful to businesses.

An increase in pay must be accompanied by an increase in government funding. There are two channels that are conducive to financing an SEO - the current ECCE programme and the to-be-rolled-out Single Affordable Childcare scheme. Both channels provide government subsidies which could be increased to match the SEO. Minister Zappone has stated in the Dáil, in relation to the SAC, 'the flexibility of the bill allows for changes to subsidy rates over time.' Achieving the SEO would put our sector in a strong collective bargaining position, which we could use to alleviate the many crises currently happening.

There is a groundswell of cross-party political support for early years. A Dáil motion in 2017 put forward that early years professionals should have better pay and conditions; it passed unopposed. We have Minister Zappone who, despite the restrictions of her ministerial remit, has spoken out for early years professionals and has acknowledged a pathway to better pay through unionisation. There are so many issues and we have an opportunity to fix one. If we could get professional pay for all 23,500 of us, the sector would be the better for it. This can only happen if we unite together and join a trade union.

 

Bio:

Deborah Reynolds is a Playschool Leader in Kilkerrin Community Playschool, a play-based service in East Co. Galway. Deborah has qualifications in Childcare, Fine Art and Forest School, she recently graduated from Athlone IT with a Level 7 in EYCE. She is currently completing the LINC course and she is on the National Committee for the Big Start Campaign. Her main influence in Childcare has been her Mum, Therese. Therese planted the seeds of a play-based approach that have firmly taken root.

0 comments Comments

Leave a Reply

Please Log In to comment:

First 5 strategy(1) christmas(8) UNCRC(1) UN(1) Leprechauns(1) Maths Week(1) Early Years Educators(2) Easter(1) Potential(1) Engineers Week(2) curiosity(3) Gardening(1) Halloween(2) value(1) Traffic Lights(1) Awards 2019(1) Siolta blog(2) early years research(1) Plastic(1) Graduation(1) HR(1) Kilkenny(1) interacting(2) Decisions(1) Japan(1) Albert Einstein(1) Culture(2) social media(1) Well-Being(9) Mayo(1) INTO(1) Santa(2) Event Guide(1) IGL(1) Degree(1) STEM(2) ICBN(1) Afghanistan(1) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs(1) Trade Unions(1) Jillian van Turnhout(1) toddlers(3) Special Needs Assistants(1) dogs(1) Traditions(2) Feeding(1) ReCreate(2) Settling in(4) Dr Mary O'Kane(1) Storytelling(3) Prexit(1) Visitors(1) Lego(2) Line-ups(1) Mathematicians(1) Early Years(1) DCYA(4) Child mental health(1) Flowers(1) documentation(3) Social Skills(1) Children(1) Twitter(1) grandchild(1) Health(2) Shoes(1) St. Patrick's Day(1) conversations(1) Kerry(1) Tuscan Approach(2) Vertical grouping(1) Aistear(110) Rituals(1) Educator - Leader in Practice Award(1) Christmas Creativity(2) Map(1) Inspections(1) Montessori(3) environments(1) Scéalta Book Review(1) Kids Own(1) Home Corner(1) Educator of the Year Award(3) Wilenski(1) emotional environment(1) Diversity(1) Leargas(1) Summer(1) early childhood educator(1) science week(2) Intention(1) Self-regulation(1) Reggio Emilia(1) Leaders in Practice(1) Infectious diseases(1) feisty(1) Policy and Implementation Panel(1) story time(1) Spiders(1) Educators(1) Annual Conference 2017(2) Motor neuron disease(1) science(3) Loss(1) CCTV(1) SPICE Framework(1) Sequins(1) New Appointments(1) Celebrations(4) Patterns(1) linc(1) Winter(1) Early Learning and Care Centres(1) educarer(1) Learning Story(1) Glitter(2) Limerick(1) Valerie Gaynor(1) Dance(1) Playschool(1) Infection Control(1) Oireachtas(1) National Pyjama Day(1) risk assessment(1) Fabric(1) Empathy(1) development(8) Story(1) Irish Early Years Research & Practice Seminar 2018(1) Photographs(1) Engineering(2) Confidence(1) Equality & Inclusion Guidelines Training(1) community(5) Access and Inclusion Model(2) Challenges(1) Learning Journal(1) Policy(2) Appreciation(1) Cork(1) Children's Rights(3) risky play(2) Upcycling(1) Sustainable(1) Awards 2018(3) ears(1) EM Standing(1) Online(1) outdoors(3) Arlene Forster(1) Xbox(1) Penguins(1) E.coli(1) mushrooms(1) Growing up Outdoors(1) Teamwork(1) books(4) DES Inspection(1) LINC Award for Leadership in Inclusion(1) Irish Childhood Bereavement Network(1) Snacks(1) purpose(1) EECERA 2016(1) Annual Conference 2019(1) Children's Voice(1) Norway(2) Exercise(1) Exit interview(1) Vietnam(1) relationships(17) Love(2) Scéalta Blog(90) Study Trip(1) Giraffe(2) Environment(2) animals(2) Biting(1) Ceremony(1) Brain(1) Qualifications(1) Orla Kenny(1) Yoga(1) Maria Montessori(1) AIM(2) dublin(2) Exploring(1) Breathing(2) Quality(4) Reggio(1) Iraq(1) ERASMUS+(3) Communications(1) Síolta(105) Laugh(1) Wesco(1) communication(4) National Awards 2018(2) life long learning(1) Supernanny(1) Maternity Leave(1) experience(1) Games(1) Professionalisation(4) budget(1) Playdough(1) Maynooth(1) Mantra(1) respect(5) San Miniato(4) Positivity(1) Recycle(1) Grief(1) Workplace Relations(3) Thank you(1) Visual Impairment(1) ECEC(1) research(6) Nonverbal(1) Identity(5) outdoor play(6) Interaction(1) Body Language(1) First 5(1) planning(1) Music(3) collaboration(1) NCCA(3) Bereavement(2) Workplace well-being(1) Technology(2) Shapes(1) Anxiety(2) Wrapping paper(1) Early Learning and Care(1) eating(1) Malaguzzi(1) Rising to the Challenge(2) Aistear Siolta Practice Guide(1) Art(6) Providing Leadership to the First 5(1) Celebrate(1) InspireMe.ie(1) Pobal sector profile(1) PIP(1) Imagination(3) Syria(1) Thanks(1) education(2) bonds(1) Horizon 2020(1) preschool(2) Affordability(1) Partnership with Families Innovation Award(1) Advocacy(1) Favouritism(1) Learning Stories(9) Decision Making(1) Hand Hygiene(1) Liz Kerrins(1) TOY Programme(1) Awards(2) Together Old and Young Programme(1) under 3's(3) Early Childhood Ireland National Awards(1) National Awards 2019(1) NAEYC(1) dining experiences(1) Window(1) The Jelly King(1) Builders(1) outdoor space(3) Learning Story Awards(1) Childcare(2) Engagement(1) Wonder(1) Growing up in Ireland(3) Treasure(1) Thinking(1) Gratitude(1) Running(1) Emergent Curriculum(1) RTE Investigates(1) Children's Research Network(1) Magic(1) General Data Protection Regulation(1) Mark Twain(1) University(1) emotions(2) worries(1) baby room(1) Creativity(4) Academic Skills(1) Educator Award - Leader in Practice(1) Sport(1) Self Help Skills(1) Care-giving routines(1) Children and families(1) Ariana Pucci(1) Deirdre Rogers(1) Learning journals(1) Painting(1) Vivian Gussin Paley(1) Care routines(1) Toby Bears Camping Trip(1) CPD(1) meals(3) Fantasy play(1) Investment(2) Names(1) Magda Gerber(1) Craft(1) UD(1) Mindfulness(2) Sociodramatic play(1) babies(7) Workforce(1) Magnavacchi(1) Mo Scéal(1) Pen green(1) Creative(1) Queues(1) Blocks(1) Sustainability(3) Rich Documentation(1) Employee(1) scéalta(29) MECPI(1) The Lullaby Book(1) Book Review(1) Weather(1) National Holiday(1) memories(1) Adoption(1) National Bereaved Children's Awareness Week(1) GDPR(1) Party(1) Valentine's Day(3) Dr. Emer Ring(1) Impact(1) Mount Everest(1) Síolta Quality Assurance programme(1) Inclusion(3) Light table(1) Mixed age groups(2) Competent(1) Mud kitchens(1) Universal Design(2) blog(28) Meet the Members(1) Arithmetic(1) Síolta QAP(1) Belonging(3) Touch(1) Book Club(2) Inspirational(2) Snakes(1) play stories(1) Performing(1) Laughter(1) Budget 2018(1) European Project(1) Trigonometry(1) Community involvement(1) Interactions(2) Treasure Chest(1) parents(5) Meal time(1) Through the looking glass(1) Training(2) Mental Health(3) Little Buddies(1) College(1) Learning Stories Award(3) Trade union(1) Buddies(1) MA(1) Seas Suas(1) Fee Play(1) journey(1) Trick or treat(1) Maths Week Ireland(1) Minister Katherine Zappone(1) Building Resilience(1) Socioemotional development(1) reading(5) Engineering Ireland(1) Plants(1) Frosty the Snowman(1) Cork Institute of Technology(1) UN Sustainable Development Goals(1) RIE philosphy(1) learning(18) refugees(1) Exclusion(1) risk(2) Research Seminar(1) San Minia(1) Titles(1) Participation(2) Drawing(2) Snack Time(1) Elders(1) Smiles(1) Family(1) Exploring and Thinking(1) Department of Education and Skills(1) Scents(1) Academics(1) Arts(1) Administrative Burden(1) role playing(1) pets(1) Eritrea(1) Masterclass(2) Support(1) Reggio Children Network(1) Italy(1) Research Conference 2019(1) Montessori & Early Childhood Professionals Ireland(1) Irish(1) Early Childhood Ireland’s National Early Childhood Research Conference 2019(1) Budget 2020(1) Inter-generational(2) Family wall(1) Design(1) Time Out(1) Frustrations(1) Sleep(1) Confident(1) Early Childhood Care and Education(1) overhear(1) Inter-generational learning(2) Interests(1) trust(3) Time(1) Budget 2019(2) CIT(1) dining(1) Research and Professional Learning(1) Identity and Belonging(4) Stress(2) Aldo Fortunati(4) Staff Motivation(1) friendships(1) National Council for Curriculum and Assessment(1) Recycling(2) Cognitive development(1) Independence(1) curriculum(5) Change(1) Consent(1) Department of Children and Youth Affairs(2) School Age Childcare(1) Facebook(1) listen(1) Mealtimes(1) Routines(1) Wendy Lee(3) Iceland(1) maternity health(1) Death(2) Pobal(1) United Nations(1) Leadership(1) Role play(1) listening(1) Certificate(1) Jenga(1) routine(2) play(32) Nutrition(1) Sculptures(1) Margy Whalley(1) TRAP(1) Childhood(1) Communicating(1) Graduate(1) educating(1) supportive environments(2) Relaxation(1) Funding(1) Self-Esteem(1) Maynooth University(1) Human Resources(1) Primary School(2) Autism(3) AsIAm(1) transitions(10) Reflective Practice(1) Our Little Seed(1) food(1) stories(2) Capable(1) Childcare Barometer 2018(1) Whole Group(1) ECCE(6) Maths(4) child-centred approach(1) Nuturing interactions(1) Inspired Practice Award(5) Buddy Bench(1) National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education(1) Performance Management(1) Obesity(1) Sweets(1) Behaviour(3)

SIGN UP FOR BLOG UPDATES

SUBSCRIBE
Site maintained and developed by Cloud Nine