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Sunday 3 December 2023 Dublin: 0°C
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Roderic O'Gorman

Children's minister says three-day strike by childcare providers this week is 'not warranted'

Providers are expected to close their services from Tuesday to Thursday.

MINISTER FOR CHILDREN Roderic O’Gorman has said that a planned three-day strike by childcare providers this week is not “warranted”.

A significant number providers are expected to close their services from Tuesday to Thursday to protest over what they say are low fees paid to them by the Government.

The Federation of Early Childhood Providers (FECP), a representative body for the sector, has said that providers have been getting the same fees since 2017, despite a rise in wages and the cost of food, rent and transport since then.

The group says that this has left many childcare providers unviable as businesses, and that there is a staffing crisis impacting 73% of providers.

However, O’Gorman told RTÉ’s The Week in Politics programme today that progress had been made in recent years and that there was no need for strike action.  

“I want to continue to support the early years sector. I don’t believe these sets of strikes are warranted,” the minister said.

“We’ve better pay for staff. We’ve cut the number of closures of childcare centres and we’ve cut the cost for parents.

“There’s a lot more work to do and I absolutely recognise that, but we’ve made great steps forward in the last three years. And I want to continue that and I’ll be using the Budget negotiations as a basis for further investment.”

Earlier this week, FECP chair Elaine Dunne said the group refuted a claim that €1 billion per year is spent by the Government on childcare.

She also called for urgent dialogue between the Government and stakeholders in the industry, but said O’Gorman was “unwilling to accept” this.

“Fixing our fees and setting mandatory higher wages, without considering serious inflation, is insane,” Dunne said.

“They may as well bolt my front door. I provide a service in my community. People – young children – rely on me and my staff.

“Profit is unthinkable; for the last two years, I have not only not profited, I have borrowed to pay staff.

“It’s also a gender issue. Our workforce is largely female. Mums know too that if we are forced to close, they are the ones most likely to be forced out of the workforce, not the fathers.”

Childcare providers, parents, and employees are expected to march on the Dáil at 12pm on Tuesday.

There are also expected to be separate marches to TDs’ offices and other locations on Wednesday and Thursday.

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