SIPTU has condemned a call by a new independent childcare providers’ organisation, ‘Seas Suas’, for a temporary derogation that would allow up to 25% of staff in Early Years facilities to work without any qualifications. ‘Seas Suas’ has said that only 75% of staff employed in the sector should require a basic childcare qualification. SIPTU Sector Organiser, Darragh O’Connor, said: “This call was made by the new independent childcare providers' organisation ‘Seas Suas’ in a policy document released last week. There is a recruitment and retention crisis in the Early Years childcare sector. However, this is not due to a lack of qualified educators, it is due a lack of well paid jobs. “An average rate of pay of €10.27 per hour combined with precarious working conditions means that qualified workers don’t see a future doing a job they love. According to Early Childhood Ireland, the main representative body of Early Years providers, staff turnover was nearly 30% over a 12-month period between 2016 and 2017.” He added: “Rather than seeking to reduce minimum qualification requirements, the Government and other stakeholders should be working towards formulating a high quality Early Years strategy. The benefits of such a strategy for children is well documented which is why our members condemn any attempt to reverse such an approach.”    Aishling Silke, a manager of an Early Years’ service and a SIPTU activist, said: “Young children are citizens of our State and they have a right to quality care and education at the same level that is currently provided for children from four years upwards. We would not accept the deprofessionalisation of teachers in primary or secondary schools if there was a recruitment crisis.” She added: “We need to stop this unequal treatment of the youngest members of our society and work towards a properly funded Early Years sector with a a professionally recognised workforce.”