Why are ECE teachers worth less?
Early Childhood Education (ECE) members have been able to secure enhanced wages and conditions that have put them thousands of dollars ahead of the legal minimum standard – but disparity still exists between wages for ECE teachers and school teachers.
Without collective agreements, negotiated by our members, many teachers in the ECE sector would be receiving thousands of dollars less for their service.
The Educational Services Award exists as the minimum standard for teachers to receive in terms of wages and conditions.
This is the safety that exists for worksites that are not covered by collective agreements.
However, in some circumstances teachers working in ECE are receiving less than teachers working in schools.
Teachers are teachers
Our union firmly believes that teachers are teachers, and should be paid a fair wage regardless of which sector they work in.
IEUA-QNT Senior Industrial Officer John Spriggs said while members at a number of ECE sites had won provisions that had put them thousands of dollars ahead of the Award, some ECE employers have not been matching the rates teachers are receiving in schools.
“What we tend to see during collective bargaining negotiations are employers who are reluctant to agree to enhanced wages as they believe they are already paying their employees above the minimum standard.
“However, in comparing their employees’ conditions to those of the minimum standard — instead of what is received in the school sector — employers are ignoring the big picture.
“This is frustrating members’ ability to achieve the wages they deserve.
“If employers continue to use the Award — which was intended only as a safety net — as their comparison, they are setting the bar very low, and are happy to congratulate themselves for jumping it.
“But our members deserve more than that,” Mr Spriggs said.
The laws allow employers to act unfairly
Changes to laws and industrial rules to improve workers’ lives are needed, including an overhaul of the bargaining system to make it easier for employees to bargain across the whole sector for enhancements to wages and conditions.
“Current legislation effectively prohibits such bargaining.
Sector bargaining would allow workers in common industries to negotiate conditions collectively in an agreement to cover workplaces with multiple employers.
“Sector bargaining would help recognise teachers as teachers, regardless of the context they work in.
“It would help to recognise that community kindergartens are a crucial part of the education sector, and acknowledge the skills and expertise of teachers working in ECE.
“Employees should be free to bargain collectively and reach a negotiated agreement without such restrictions.
“We need an overhaul of the complex web of rules and regulations that give too much bargaining power to employers,” Mr Spriggs said.
Learn more about how the union movement is calling for a change to the industrial laws that are causing unfair working wages and conditions at www.changetherules.org.au