24 Jul 2020

Preschool teachers stop work to call for equal pay.

2:00 pm on 24 July 2020

Early-childhood teachers are calling for government intervention to secure pay parity with other preschool teachers.

teacher and kids playing with geometric shapes, early learning

Photo: 123RF

Educational Institute members from 130 centres across the country are stopping work this morning to meet to discuss their campaign for pay parity with other teachers.

They currently earn an average of 24-percent less than teachers with the same qualifications working in kindergartens and primary schools.

A negotiation team member, Anneke Bhat, says they are hoping to get the Government's support after the election, so that a plan will be drawn up in the next six months.

"Or definitely before the next budget, we would really love to hear in the next budget from the next government that early childhood and pay parity is at the forefront of the budget for ECE."

The meeting is the union's first-ever paid stop-work meeting.

Early childhood teacher Mel Burgess said centres desperately needed more funding from the government and it was disappointing it had gone this far.

"We've got teachers leaving the sector, we've got employers that are finding it really difficult to fill those teaching positions, because why would you want to work for so much less than your colleagues.

"The fact that this meeting is happening at all just speaks to the desperation of people working in early childhood, and it speaks to the ever-widening gap."

Early Childhood Council chief executive Peter Reynolds said they completely disagreed with the paid meeting, and that meetings should not stop teaching time for children as it means parents' fees were being mis-used.

However, the current funding model desperately needed to be made fair, the Council says.

In the May budget the government included $278.2 million to fund early childhood education providers to employ 100 percent qualified and registered teachers, from 1 January 2021, and $151.1 million to raise pay rates for qualified teachers.

Then-Minister for education Chris Hipkins said it was the first step in mending the pay parity problem.

But the Council said in many cases the funding increase did not cover the costs of increasing teachers' pay.

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