Early years workers are only paid for 38 weeks a year - and draw the dole for the summer months
Montessori and pre-school workers have delivered hundreds of ‘postcards from the dole queue’ to the Department of Finance in a push for fairer pay.
Workers are aiming to highlight their precarious contracts and the lack of state investment in the sector.
As part of the Early Childhood Care and Education scheme, early years workers receive a salary for 38 weeks of the year - and have to claim the dole for the summer months.
SIPTU is urging the government to treat the workers the same as any other teachers – while the workers themselves are calling for greater recognition and pay for the job they do:
Orla Quigley - who runs a Montessori school - said early years teachers are “paid very poorly.”
“€10.27 I think is the average rate of pay for an early years worker and it is just unacceptable,” she said.
“For far too long the government has been helping parents, which is fantastic, but it is about time the early years workers were taken care of.
“We can’t continue to maintain the high level of quality care and education we are providing to children and parents while we are earning such a low income.”
She said the lack of pay during the summer months has had a huge impact on her life:
“Well it is quite degrading to feel that you are good enough to teach and educate children 38 weeks of the year but the rest, you just have to accept handouts from someone instead of working the whole year round.
“We would all love to work the whole year round or be paid the whole year round.
“Early years workers want the same as primary teachers and the same as secondary teachers as well.”
SIPTU has warned that Ireland is lagging behind our European counterparts in terms of investment in early years education – with an investment of 0.5% of GDP in the sector, compared to the international benchmark of 1% of GDP.
The union said the pay-scale in the sector has created a “staffing crisis” with workers forced to leave jobs the love in search of better pay.
With reporting from Nicole Gernon ...