Government childcare offer “does nothing” for vast majority of nurses and midwives – INMO
The reported new plans for childcare for frontline health workers will “do nothing for the vast majority of nurses and midwives,” the INMO has said.
The plans were announced this evening to journalists (Wednesday) and would see public sector partners of frontline health workers get time off to care for children.
The INMO strongly criticised the scheme, on the basis that many workers do not fall within this “old-fashioned” concept of family structures. Many nurses and midwives are lone parents, or have partners also working on the frontlines, or not have partners who are in the public sector.
In practice, the union warned, even the small number of those who could benefit from the scheme may find that their partners are performing essential duties and cannot be released for childcare.
The union instead called for a package including options of:
• Direct in-home provision of childcare
• Reimbursement for childcare paid for during lockdown
• Reimbursement for annual leave, or full pay with leave, for those who cannot attend work due to their childcare responsibilities.
INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said:
“This is a surprisingly old-fashioned concept of family needs. It will not resolve the issues faced by the vast majority of nurses and midwives, offering a limited solution only to those with partners in some public sector work.
“For most of our members with childcare needs, this is worse than irrelevant. It actively discriminates against single parents and many modern families, who will still have the same problems in relation to childcare provision. It cannot be ignored that over 90% of our members are women.
“We have been seeking a proper solution on behalf of our members for well over a month. We have been bounced back and forth between departments, given endless deadlines for decisions by NPHET. This proposal as reported would not even have needed NPHET approval.
“Those who can find childcare are paying over the odds, with some of our members practically paying to go to work in a high-risk environment. They also get nothing.
“Ireland’s nurses and midwives are risking their lives to provide care. The very least that the state can do is take care of their children when they go to work. Instead, our members are told to simply get on with it – forced to choose between caring for patients or their children.
“During this pandemic, our union and professions have worked hard to be constructive and collaborative. We wish to continue that approach, but the government cannot take our members’ hard work for granted.”