SIPTU has welcomed the publication this afternoon (Wednesday, 26th July) by the Oireachtas Children and Youth Affairs Committee of a report which calls for better pay and conditions for Early Years workers. SIPTU Sector Organiser, Darragh O’Connor, said: “The Report on the Working Conditions of the Early Years Education and Care Sector 2017 is a welcome and well researched contribution to the growing body of evidence that clearly indicates improvements are needed in the Early Years sector in Ireland. “It is very beneficial to the campaign to secure improvements in the sector that this report has cross party support from all the members of the Oireachtas Children and Youth Affairs committee. “Together with their allies in the Big Start campaign, SIPTU activists have been at the forefront in campaigning for a better Early Years sector for workers and children. Qualified Early Years educators need to be recognised and rewarded if Ireland is serious about building a high quality sector that supports the of development children. In particular, we welcome the recommendation in the report that that nationally agreed pay scales are introduced for professionals in the sector. He added: “SIPTU is campaigning for a Sectoral Employment Order (SEO) for the Early Years sector together with increased investment in it.  An SEO would establish minimum rates of pay and other minimum conditions for workers. “However, the Government must also step up to the mark and increase spending on Early Years to the international benchmark of 1% of GDP. This is particularly necessary if we are to ensure that implementing decent pay for educators will not undermine the viability of providers in the sector. “Our members in the sector would like to make clear that they appreciate the hard work of Rapporteur, Kathleen Funchion TD, and her colleagues on the Committee, in compiling a report which highlights the crucial need for immediate action to improve the Early Years sector.”