SIPTU demands adequate protection from Covid-19 infection for childcare professionals

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SIPTU representatives have today (Tuesday, 20th October) demanded that the Government and employers take immediate action to ensure that workers in the childcare sector are provided with adequate protection from Covid-19 infection.

SIPTU Head of Organising, Darragh O’Connor, said: “Figures released by the HSE to then Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, Louise O’Reilly, show that the percentage of children and staff who tested positive for Covid-19 in childcare facilities is double the number found in primary and secondary schools.

“It is clear from these figures that the measures to protect childcare professionals are not adequate to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Poverty incomes, a lack of sick pay and high staff turnover are undermining Covid-19 control measures in childcare settings. This vital public service was at the forefront of the reopening the economy in June but the professionals who provide care and education to children in these workplaces have not be provided with the protections adequate to carry out their essential role.

“As the union which organises childcare workers, SIPTU is calling on the Government and employers to ensure that all staff have access to Personal Protective Equipment and are fairly rewarded with decent pay and sick pay for the huge contribution they are making during the Covid-19 crisis. All frontline workers need to have a sick pay scheme and no one should be punished for doing the right thing and taking time off work if they are unwell.

“The Government must also prioritise Covid-19 testing and contact tracing in the childcare sector to ensure workers and children are kept safe as possible.”

He added: “The annual staff turnover rate for workers employed in full day childcare services is 40%. Only 17% of childcare professionals have a sick pay scheme and 60% earn below the Living Wage of €12.30 per hour. All these are issues that need to be addressed if we are to have the type of childcare services the country needs.”

SIPTU is the union for childcare professionals with more than 6,000 members organised into the union in the sector.

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