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Date: Weds 5 Oct 2005

UNISON calls for universal public childcare and more work-life balance

Scotland's largest union, UNISON has called on the Scottish Executive to launch a campaign to convince employers of the economic and social benefits of increased work-life balance arrangements, and should lead the way by introducing the ideas into the Scottish public sector.

In evidence given to the Scottish Parliament Education Committee's Early Years enquiry today (Wednesday) the union also called on the Executive to introduce affordable universal full-time childcare for all ages, calling the existing commitment of part-time fee pre-school education for 3 and 4-year-olds 'helpful, but inadequate."

Eileen Dinning, UNISON's Scottish Equalities Officer, said "In addition to the existing flexibility options - job sharing, part time work, flexitime, shift and home working, much research is now going on into staggered hours, annualised hours, flexible annual leave, income and career breaks. In addition to the benefits to parents and others with caring responsibilities these can lead to better deals for employers such as, keeping experienced staff, reduced absences, better return on training, and more productivity."

UNISON is also calling for childcare to be publicly-funded for all children, and for it to be available full-time.

Carol Ball, Chair of UNISON's Nursery Nurse working party said, "The current mixture of part-time arrangements mean that parents face a confusing and disruptive combination of care every day - especially if they are working. Children can end up going to nursery school, day care and childminders all in the same day! Many European countries have a much more extensive public provision for the early years sector. If there were sufficient publicly-funded centres, staffed by qualified early education and care workers, the problems of disruption and confusion would be resolved."

In addition UNISON wants increased maternity and paternity provision in the UK, to catch up with the levels of provision in other European countries. This however, is a reserved function and the Scottish Parliament would be only able to persuade the Westminster government to improve and expand the current provision.


For Further Information Please Contact: Eileen Dinning (Equalities Officer) 07703 166 203(m) Carol Ball (Chair Nursery Nurses WP) 07803 952 263(m) Chris Bartter(Communications Officer) 0845 355 0845(w) 0771 558 3729(m)