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News - 22.08.2023

Blow to families and a setback in the fight for equality - resolution of the board of VR regarding changes in preschool matters in Kópavogur

The Board of VR strongly criticizes the changes in preschool matters in the municipality of Kópavogur, which will adversely affect the income of families and could move the fight for equality back many years.

The town council of Kópavogur has approved changes to the organization and fees of preschools which are to take effect at the beginning of next month. These changes include a reduction in the activities of preschools, which are not only the first level of schooling for children but also the basis for both parents of young children to be able to take an active part in the labor market, as is necessary to ensure the survival of families. Preschool fees will increase significantly for a large proportion of parents or reduce their chances of full-time employment. Preschools issues are of great importance to workers.

Preschool issues also affect gender equality as the care for young children is still mostly in the hands of women. The plans of the government and municipalities to bridge the care gap between maternity leave and preschool have failed, especially in the greater Reykjavík area. A large number of children are not able to attend preschool right after maternity leave ends. The decrease in the number of daycare and the lack of preschools means that many families do not know if and when both parents can return to work after maternity leave ends. The uncertainty has increased, rather than decreased. This results in both reduced wages and insecurity for families and carries with it the risk of a major backlash in the fight for gender equality.

Kópavogur's arguments for reducing preschool services include, among other things, shortening of the working week and increased vacation time. The extensive shortening of the working week in the public sector and increased vacation time has not been adopted by the entire labor market, as is implied by Kópavogur. In the general labor market, working hours are often longer and vacation time and accrual of leave different. The majority of parents of preschool children work in the public labor market. This cannot be swept under the carpet.

The Board of VR believes that shortening the day of preschool children is desirable, but that it will not be achieved by placing additional burdens on the shoulders of parents of young children and adversely affecting the income of families during a sensitive period of life. The Board of VR also declares its full support for increasing compensation of preschool staff and improve working conditions, for the benefit of staff, parents and children.

VR calls on the town council of Kópavogur to reconsider its decision and not contribute to a decline in living conditions and a regression in gender equality.

Board of VR
22 August, 2023