Staff in Childminding Ireland begin an indefinite strike this morning (Tuesday). Their union IMPACT says the dispute will continue until management withdraws compulsory redundancy notices served to five staff members, and enters meaningful talks over proposed restructuring plans.
IMPACT says redundancies are unnecessary in the organisation, which is not experiencing financial difficulties and has produced no business case to justify job losses. The union believes Childminding Ireland is illegally threatening redundancies to force administrative and specialist staff out of their jobs before replacing them with others.
IMPACT has accused the State-funded body of refusing to engage seriously in a conciliation organised by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), prompting five of the six staff at the organisation to back industrial action.
Childminding Ireland provides representation and advice to childcare providers.
IMPACT official Stella Griffin said management had issued five staff members with individual redundancy notices, with notice periods ranging from a month to almost a year. “This is a bizarre and bogus redundancy threat in which a State-funded employer simply wants to get rid of its staff and replace them with others. Childminding Ireland has had plenty of opportunities to explain why it thinks restructuring and redundancies are necessary, and it has consistently failed to do so. It is clear that no business case has been put forward because no business case exists.
“I have also seen internal correspondence, between board members, which demonstrates beyond doubt that Childminding Ireland has no intention of engaging meaningfully with its workers or their representatives. One board member has described these loyal and hardworking staff as ‘bold teenagers’,” she said.
Although management says the staff will be able to apply for as-yet-unspecified new roles in a restructured organisation, the union believes that the new roles are being constructed to exclude them.
“Childminding Ireland is a representative body, not a childcare provider. Yet it has indicated that it will insist that administrative, communications and accounts staff have childcare qualifications. There is no objective reason for this. The real rational is simply to get rid of the well-qualified and loyal staff they currently have,” said Ms Griffin.
IMPACT says it remains available to resolve the issue through negotiations in the Workplace Relations Commission.