SIPTU representatives have said that Budget 2021 has failed to address the crisis of low pay for workers and high fees for families in the childcare sector. SIPTU Head of Organising, Darragh O’Connor, said: “Low pay for workers in the childcare sector is undermining the viability and quality of services. Despite needing mandatory qualifications, over 60% of Early Years educators earn below the Living Wage of €12.30 per hour and only 16% have a sick pay scheme at work. At the same time parents are paying some of the highest fees in the European Union.  “Clearly the current system is broken and is failing workers, children and parents”. He added: “Poverty pay has resulted in an average annual staff turnover rate of 40% in full day childcare services. This directly undermines the quality and sustainability of these services. Simply put, Early Years educators cannot afford to stay in a job they love. Budget 2021 has failed to address this low pay crisis or lay the ground work for the fundamental change the sector needs. “Unfortunately, the Government has not taken onboard the needs of the sector as outlined in the SIPTU pre-budget submission on childcare which called for a Living Wage guarantee and five days sick pay, as the first steps towards professional pay and conditions for Early Years educators.”