The SIPTU ‘Big Start’ campaign has called on the Government to address as a matter of urgency the issue of low pay in the Early Years sector. Big Start campaign coordinator and SIPTU Sector Organiser, Darragh O’Connor, said: “Last night (Wednesday, 5th October) Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zaponne and Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Pascal O’Donoghue, concluded an agreement on the new ‘Single Affordable Childcare Programme’. “The finer details still have to be worked out but families with a net income of up to €47,000 will receive subsidised childcare. This will be welcomed by parents. However, it does nothing to address the other big issues facing the sector. Early Years professionals will still be on very low wages. Providers will still struggle with sustainability of service provision.” He added: “This is why the Early Years sector needs a union. By Early Years professionals, parents and providers coming together in the Big Start campaign we can have a strong voice that the Government cannot ignore. Quality Early Years education has to be underpinned by qualified staff who are paid a decent wage. We currently have a situation where many Early Years professionals are on precarious 38 week contracts and paid below the hourly rate for a Living Wage”. “Subsidised childcare is a step in the right direction but affordability cannot be the only consideration. Government investment must address the shockingly low wages of Early Years professionals.”SIPTU is organising Early Years professionals across Ireland into the union through its Big Start campaign.