SIPTU representatives have said that a good pay deal for childcare workers is the only way to deal with the worsening staffing crisis in the sector which is at the root of many of the other issues affecting services. SIPTU Head of Strategic Organising, Darragh O’Connor, said: “Low pay has resulted in a staffing crisis that is undermining the sustainability of services. For example, a Lead Educator with an honours degree qualification in childcare earns just €13.21 per hour on average.  “Workers simply cannot afford to stay in their chosen profession. This is bad for workers who cannot make ends meet. It is also bad for providers who are struggling to recruit and retain staff. The outcome of this high turnover of staff is to undermine the quality of services for children.  “The situation is getting worse, with the most recent survey by state agency POBAL finding that nationally the average staff turnover for childcare services is 19% per year, reaching a high of 43% a year in Leitrim.” He added: “We need a pay deal that recognises and rewards Early Years educators. Improved rates of pay have been proposed at pay talks between SIPTU and childcare employers facilities by the Workplace Relations Commission. These new rates would help end the staffing crisis by lifting thousands of Early Years educators out of poverty pay.”