The SIPTU Big Start Campaign has called on the Government to invest in high quality, affordable childcare instead of endorsing the ill-conceived proposal for payments to grandparents from the Independent Alliance. SIPTU Sector Organiser, Darragh O’Connor, said: “A recent ICTU survey showed that parents are paying up to €1,400 a month in childcare fees. This makes Ireland the second most expensive country for childcare in the OECD. The IMF and the EU Commission have both called on the Irish Government to address the issue of affordability in recent reports.  “Ireland currently invests just 0.2% of GDP in childcare. This is far behind the OECD average of 0.7 and the UNICEF target of 1%. Ireland needs to triple its investment in childcare just to reach the OECD average. Instead of tackling the root causes of unaffordable childcare, we instead have government ministers ‘kite-flying’ a proposal which, if adopted, would amount to no more than a sticking plaster for struggling families. Parents and children deserve better.”    O’Connor added: “The grandparents’ grant proposal is symptomatic of bad policy making in Ireland. We need a long term plan that delivers high quality, affordable childcare with decent wages for educators. Qualified childcare workers are paid on average just €10.88 per hour, with many on precarious contracts. We need fundamental reform of the current childcare system, not soundbites as policy proposals.” SIPTU organises thousands of childcare workers and is leading the Big Start Campaign for quality, affordable childcare with decent jobs for educators.