Early Childhood AEU achieves groundbreaking agreements for early childhood members

  • 27 Nov 2020

After almost two years of negotiations, the AEU has won an early childhood ‘heads of agreement’ that for the first time achieves pay parity between kindergarten and school teachers at every level over the life of the agreement. The Andrews government has committed to a funding package to support the agreements, which delivers substantial pay rises and improved working conditions.

“These are great outcomes that deliver significant wage increases for both teachers and educators as well as the inclusion of entitlements that will go towards alleviating workload,” said Cara Nightingale, AEU vice president for early childhood.

“The salary increases, and package of associated improvements, are a significant win for early childhood members – especially given that they have been achieved during the pandemic.”

The new agreement was struck this week between the AEU and employer representatives Early Learning Association of Australian (ELAA) and the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV), which has broad coverage of the state’s kindergartens. Government funding was essential to meeting the costs of both agreements, the VECTEA and the EEEA.

The union has also welcomed the government’s new $169.6 million scheme to provide fee-free kinder for funded three and four-year-old programs, ensuring all children can access early childhood education, and supporting women, who have been hardest hit by the pandemic, to stay connected to the workforce. Fee-free preschool has been a long-standing aim for the AEU and we will continue to lobby government to see this extended beyond 2021.

“The salary increases, and package of associated improvements, are a significant win for early childhood members – especially given that they have been achieved during the pandemic.”

Over the four-year period of the agreements, teacher pay will increase by between 12.6% and 30.7%; Educator and Activity Group Leader salaries will increase between 20% and 27%, with initial upfront increases of between 5.4% and 13.2%. From 1 July 2021, level 1.5 educators will have pay parity with range 1.5 education support staff in schools; and PSFOs will see a pay increase of between 16.9% and 17.7%.

The deal also sees the introduction of new diploma levels 2.2 and 2.3 – while, in February 2022, the hard barrier of teacher validation will be removed and replaced by a simpler process.

Improvements to working conditions include allocated time for mentoring and professional development and for setting up kindergarten programs at the start of each year. Under the new VECTEA, any required out-of-hours work will now be by agreement, in writing, with a 14-day notice period – and paid. Primary caregivers will be entitled to leave of 16 weeks (four weeks for secondary carer’s leave).

The new agreements also include family violence leave of 20 days per year, or the relevant amount in the local government EBA, and up to five days of union training leave for members, eight days for sector councillors and time release for VIT reps. Workers covered by the EEEA will receive the relevant local government entitlements.

The new agreements will apply over four years and are expected to cover more than 900 kindergartens, 42 long day-care centres, and services in 22 local government areas. These wins recognise the value of teachers and educators to the children they educate, their families and the broader Victorian community.

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