Early Childhood A step closer to wage justice for members in early childhood

On 27 September, the Fair Work Commission handed down a historic decision, authorising the Australian Education Union, the Independent Education Union, and the United Workers Union to negotiate a supported bargaining enterprise agreement covering employees in early learning centres.

This decision means that, for the first time, 65 employers from across the country will come together to set a new standard for teachers and educators in more than 500 centres, where early childhood professionals have for too long only been receiving award pay and conditions.

Multi-employer bargaining offers an opportunity to set a new benchmark standard for teachers employed in long day care. Currently, there are serious inequities in pay and conditions between those working in sessional kindergartens and those employed to run kinder programs within long day care services.

The AEU, IEU and UWU are seeking a 25% pay increase for teachers and educators currently employed under the modern awards to address the wage injustices this segment of the profession has experienced for far too long.

Members’ log of claims also includes additional annual leave; additional planning time; paid time for professional development; mentorships for graduate teachers undertaking the provisionally registered teacher VIT process; and paid parental leave.

Over the next decade, an additional 11,000 early childhood teachers and educators are needed as part of the Victorian Best Start, Best Life reform agenda.

AEU Victoria has a long, proud history of enterprise bargaining in early childhood since the first multi-employer agreement was secured in 1998, and we are going to work hard to ensure we have the same successes with a national EC multi-employer agreement.

The authorisation has come about thanks to new industrial laws as part of the Better Pay, Secure Jobs Bill, which passed both houses of federal parliament in December 2022.

Over the next decade, an additional 11,000 early childhood teachers and educators are needed as part of the Victorian Best Start, Best Life reform agenda. Yet, this is compromised due to the high turnover of teachers in long day care because of poor pay and conditions.

Here and across Australia, a high level of experience and expertise will be needed within the profession to support and mentor the next generation of teachers across both sessional and long day care kinder programs, making retention an essential part of any workforce strategy the government develops.

Amid a national workforce crisis in the sector, federal early childhood minister Anne Aly, along with employment and workplace relations minister Tony Burke, have acknowledged that early childhood teachers and educators deserve professional wages, and a national employment agreement with government funding attached is the best way to deliver those pay rises.

The AEU is committed to achieving fair and equitable wages and conditions for all our early childhood members.

Fair Work Commissioner Peter Hampton approved the unions’ request to have the FWC and federal education department at the bargaining table from the commencement of negotiations. Conferences between all parties have been continuing throughout Term 4 to further the bargaining process.

This will continue alongside negotiations for the next iterations of the sector’s benchmark agreements, the VECTEA and EEEA, set to commence early next year. The AEU is also in the process of bargaining to deliver improved pay and entitlements to teachers and educators who work in council-run and community-owned centres.

The AEU is committed to achieving fair and equitable wages and conditions for all our early childhood members. When EC teachers and educators are supported to stay in the profession, children will benefit from consistent, high-quality educational programs no matter which setting they attend.

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