United Voice, the union representing early childhood educators, has submitted an application to the Fair Work Commission asking for equal pay for workers in the low-paid sector.
United Voice national president Michael Crosby said that the application was designed to boost staff quality.
“This application for equal pay is about quality – making sure we have high-quality, professional educators to educate and care for the next generation of young Australians,” he said.
The Equal Remuneration Order application covers all professionals working in long day care centres across Australia: 68,000 educators delivering early childhood education and care (ECEC) to about 610,000 children.
Crosby said that early childhood educators are badly paid for their services: “The rate for certificate III educators is just $19.07 per hour – approximately $10 an hour less than workers with comparable qualifications are paid.”
He said that educators are underpaid because child education was traditionally “women’s work”, an unpaid task performed at home. But child care today is professionalised and the quality is evaluated in compliance with high standards.
“Educators deserve a professional wage for the professional work they do. It is not in children’s interests for this gross underpayment of educators to continue.”
Crosby said that the $300 million Early Years Quality Fund, which increases the wage of 40 per cent of educators by $3 per hour until June 2015, although good, is not enough.
He said that educators, families and providers need a resolution that can provide increased pay for educators without increasing the fees to parents who cannot afford to pay more.
Early childhood educator Kerrie Devir supported the pay claim, saying it would complete the job the new National Quality Standard started for improving early childhood education and care.
“It is not good enough for us to be paid a third less than somebody with similar qualifications,” she said. “I’ve come close to leaving the sector on many occasions but I’ve stayed because I love my work.
“What we need now is a long-term solution, for our sake but ultimately for the children to whom we dedicate our working lives.”Do you have an idea for a story?
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