Michelle Devane, PA
Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman has said a new wage deal for childcare workers bringing in minimum pay of €13 per hour will be signed off in the next few weeks.
Mr O’Gorman said the deal is part of an Employment Regulation Order.
Once it is agreed he said it will allow the Government to roll out its new €221 million “core funding” for the childcare sector to providers.
The Green Party TD also told RTÉ’s Claire Byrne programme that he is hopeful a “substantial part” of the 50 per cent cut in average childcare fees, which his party wants over the next two years, will be made in this year’s Budget.
A crisis in the childcare sector has seen many providers struggling to retain staff.
It was revealed earlier this week that almost 40 per cent of workers in the early years childcare sector are actively seeking to leave the profession because of low pay.
A survey of almost 2,000 managers and staff carried out by the union Siptu claimed better pay was the only way to resolve the staffing crisis in the sector.
Mr O’Gorman said core funding has been designed to address the fact that so many workers “feel undervalued” as their “wages don’t represent the importance of their work in society”.
“We hope to see that Employment Regulation Order signed in the next number of weeks that’s being negotiated between employers and trade union representatives over the summer,” he said.
“Once that has been signed the core funding that we agreed in last year’s budget will flow to childcare providers and that will immediately impact positively on the pay for childcare.”
At present there are no fixed wage rates for childcare workers.
“What the employment regulation order does is it will bring in an entry rate level and I think that’s being set at €13 per hour.
“Then it’ll set increased levels in terms of qualifications, time, responsibility that childcare professionals have.
“Once that is signed the Government will bring forward the core funding package that I negotiated last year and that will then be of significant benefit to the large majority of childcare professionals.”
The Dublin West TD told the programme that his focus is on improving affordability for parents in this year’s Budget.
He said the Green Party wants a “significant increase” in the National Childcare Scheme (NSC), the subsidy parents receive that reduces childcare costs.
While he would not divulge exact figures, Mr O’Gorman said: “We want to see a 50 per cent average cut in cost in childcare fees across this budget and the next budget.
“We’ll be working to achieve a substantial part of that in this year’s budget.”
He added: “There is broad support across the coalition and abroad recognition that the cost of childcare is that is a major burden on families right now. And it’s something that we need to work to alleviate.”