SIPTU representatives have today (Tuesday, 31st March) demanded that the Government immediately publishes a strategic and sustainable plan that puts childcare arrangements in place for all essential workers for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis. SIPTU Health Division Organiser,  Paul Bell said: “The Government must take action immediately over the critical issue of providing adequate childcare arrangements for all health and essential workers. Our members want the Government to publish plans that will address this problem which is now reaching boiling point, with many health workers unable to report for duty.” “The Department of Health and the Health Service Executive (HSE) have said that people over 70 should cocoon from the community as they are deemed to be a high risk. However, this policy, coupled with the complete shut-down of creches and schools has added to the burden of an already stressed workforce. “The COVID-19 virus is global, which allows us to review the response of other governments in how they have decided to assist their health and other essential workers. In Canada and the UK, for example, the provision of childcare is viewed as an essential component in the effort to defeat the pandemic. Our members believe the same kind of urgency and planning must be applied here in Ireland. It is vital that any plan put in place by the Government is in line with HSE COVID-19 guidelines and protocols that protect the health of parents, children as well as childcare workers who should be paid appropriately.” He added: “SIPTU representatives also have serious concerns about the number of lone parents contacting the SIPTU COVID-19 information helpline, many of them deeply upset, as they have to rely on family and friends to take care of their children or call in absent from work.”