SIPTU representatives will today, (Wednesday, 31st March) raise the serious concerns of Early Years Educators over the Government’s new vaccination schedule at a high level meeting with the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. SIPTU Head of Strategic Organising and Campaigning, Darragh O’Connor, said: “Early Years Educators have stepped up to the plate at every stage of this pandemic by caring for and educating the children of essential workers. The majority of Early Years Educators are working without sick pay, earning below the Living Wage and do not have the ability to socially distance at work. 72% of staff are under 45 which means these essential workers will have to wait longer to be protected under the government’s new plan. As it stands, this plan simply serves to reinforce Early Years Educators belief that this government does not value them as essential front line workers.” He added: “The Government must ensure these essential front line workers are protected as much as possible and revisit the prioritisation schedule as more vaccines become available. The Government can recognise the essential work of Early Years Educators by establishing a Joint Labour Committee (JLC) that would introduce a sick pay scheme and lift these essential workers out of a perpetual poverty pay trap.”