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Childcare workers doorknock for better pay

Childcare workers got a head start on this year’s International Women’s Day, themed ‘Pledge for Parity’, by campaigning for better pay on Saturday.

Members of union United Voice knocked on doors in marginally held electorates across Australia, to inform people of the wage gap between early childhood workers on the one hand, and infants and primary school teachers on the other.

The union is now calling for a federal government subsidy to bridge the gap. They are using their ‘Big Steps’ campaign, of which doorknocking is a feature, to highlight their cause.

United Voice says early childhood workers are “paid a third less than those teaching and caring for children only a few years older…”

Helen Gibbons, assistant national secretary of United Voice, said “everybody agrees that education is vital to a child’s ability to reach his or her potential”. She continued, describing childcare workers as “some of the lowest paid professionals in the country”, and attributed this to their gender. She said the profession was roughly 94 per cent female.

In United Voice’s 2016 submission to the Senate inquiry into the Jobs for Families Child Care Package, she argued that low pay deterred quality educators from entering the childcare profession.

The doorknocking follows United Voice’s unsuccessful application to the Fair Work Commission for payment increases late last year. When asked to submit evidence to the commission proving that female childcare workers were discriminated against, payment-wise, the group was unable to do so.

If United Voice’s calls had been answered, the minimum annual wage of a childcare worker would have jumped from $34,060 to $47,343.

In response to Big Steps’ push for federal funding, a spokesperson from the Department of Employment said the government “…has no role in setting wages in the childcare and early learning sector…”, placing the issue back in the hands of the Fair Work Commission.

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