SIPTU Big Start Campaign representatives have said that the Early Years Sector Profile Report by the State funding agency POBAL, which was published today (Tuesday, 15th June), has revealed that low pay is continuing to force childcare professionals out of the sector. SIPTU Head of Strategic Organising and Campaigns, Darragh O’Connor, said: “The POBAL report clearly shows that the childcare sector remains in the middle of a low pay crisis. According to the report ‘Early Years assistants’ are earning on average just €11.91 per hour, that is 39c below the accepted Living Wage, and is leaving many struggling to make ends meet or looking for alternative work outside of the sector. “Indeed, research published earlier this year by SIPTU, showed that 81% of all workers in the sector are unable to meet unexpected expenses and 38% are actively looking for work in another sector.” He added: “Low pay has resulted in a staffing crisis in the Early Years sector and is undermining the quality of care provided to children. The Programme for Government committed to fixing the broken childcare system in Ireland. In order to meet this commitment in the upcoming budget the Government must address the low pay crisis in the sector and put qualified childcare professionals on a path to receiving pay parity to that of similarly qualified professionals.”