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Stand off: Workers to take protest to government after charity makes all staff redundant

The group will be staging a protest outside the Department of Children and Youth Affairs at 1pm tomorrow.

Image: Shutterstock/BlueOrange Studio

STAFF AT REPRESENTATIVE organisation Childminding Ireland are entering into their third week of protest after redundancy notices were served on all staff members.

The registered-charity is a membership organisation that regulates Ireland’s childminding industry and receives the bulk of its funding from the government.

The charity does not directly employ childminders, and those taking the strike action have a mix of communications, administrative and accounts roles.

Redundancies were served on all staff members within the organisation so that it could carry out a restructuring process, something the charity says will allow it to:

Meet the changing needs of its members, to address sustainability issues and to mirror the quality developments in the sector.

Of the six staff members served with redundancies, one is non-union affiliated, one has already accepted their redundancy, one has received their redundancy but this is not being acknowledged by the union, and three are currently staging ongoing strike action.

The strike is being supported by Impact Trade Union.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Anne McCourtney, one of the striking workers from Childminding Ireland, said:

“They said if we wanted to we could reapply for our jobs.

We would have to work a 9-month probationary period. The jobs effectively are the same but with new job titles. They asked that we enter into renegotiation.

Changing conditions 

McCourtney said that the workers being made redundant have been at Childminding Ireland for between 11 and 16 years.

As part of the redundancies the charity has changed its terms of employment so that more staff are required to have childcare qualifications.

Childminding Ireland has said in a statement to TheJournal.ie that these changes will only impact on two posts under its new structure.

The charity has said that a meeting was held in December to explain the restructuring to staff, with a consultation process opened on 5 January.

A four-month consultation period then took place, which it is claiming staff refused to engage in.

Impact is saying that management of the organisation has refused to engage at the Workplace Relations Commission – although Childminding Ireland has countered this by saying that staff walked away from discussions after the charity refused to accept their conditions.

‘No business case’ for the redundancies 

Speaking about the move, union official Stella Griffin said that there was “no objective reason” behind it, alleging that the charity is not in financial difficulty and that there is “no business case” for the layoffs.

Childminding Ireland has rejected this, saying that in the last 10-year period there has only been two years when it did not have a year-end deficit.

It claims that its income has been absorbed by salaries, limiting the amount of money it can spend on advertising targeting new members to €6,000.

In 2014, funding from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs made up 75% of its total accounts.

In both 2014 and 2015 the charity received €340,000 a year from the government.

To draw attention to their strike, the workers will be staging a march on the Department of Children and Youth Affairs on Mespil Road in south Dublin tomorrow at 1pm.

Workers are hoping that the Department will get involved as an intermediary between the two sides.

Workers have been staging a picket at Childminding Ireland’s premises in Kilcoole, Wicklow since action began on 7 June.

Read: Upgrades to childcare facilities on the way under €2.5m investment fund

Also: Childminders warn new tax rules will force more into the black economy

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