The upcoming Federation of Early Childhood Providers (FECP) strike is not warranted, according to Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman.
The FECP has said that a number of providers will close their doors and will go on strike on September 26, 27 and 28.
It is calling for more funding to avoid having to increase their fees by "at least" 25 to 30% and prevent many small and medium creches running at a huge loss.
Minister for Children Roderic O’Gorman, however, told The Anton Savage Show the strike is “not warranted”.
“Since I came to office, I've significantly increased the investment in childcare,” he said.
“We all recognise that for decades Ireland didn’t invest in childcare we're hugely underinvested compared to the rest of Europe, and I've been working really hard to catch us up.”
Mr O’Gorman said when he entered office, investment in childcare was €638 million, but has now risen to “over a billion”.
“In any sector of state spending, that’s a huge increase in a short period of time,” he said.
“With that extra money, I've been able to cut cost for parents - we’re able to cut them by an average 25%.
“I've been able to secure a pay increase for childcare professionals – since last September, 73% saw a pay increase, many of them for the first time.”
Mr O’Gorman also noted there has been a €287 million increase in supports for the childcare sector.
“When you put €287 million extra into a sector, you can’t say that’s not going to make a difference for services,” he said.
He said the Department has also listened to concerns from Early Childhood Care and Education and smaller childcare services and allocated a specific fund for smaller businesses.
Mr O’Gorman questioned the claims from the FECP that there has been an increase in creche closures.
“The capacity of the sector is increasing, and the number of closures is decreasing,” he said.
“This year is the lowest number of closures in the last five years... the number of closures now in August in less than it was last year.”
He said he has delivered increased funding and support to the childcare sector in the last three years, and he is “working to deliver more in this year’s Budget”.
“I want to deliver for providers, people who are represented by the Federation and by other groups, for the staff in childcare,” he said.
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