After months of negotiations, the Andrews government has committed to a funding package that will support the pay increases delivered by ground-breaking new agreements for early childhood workers. Government funding was essential to the achievement of both agreements, the VECTEA and the EEEA, which provide significant pay rises to AEU members in the sector.
This package is accompanied by 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.
Over the four-year period of the agreements, teacher pay will increase by between 13%–30%; Educator and Activity Group Leader salaries will increase between 20%–27%, with initial upfront increases of between 5.4%–13.2%. Level 1.5 educators will have immediate pay parity with range 1.5 education support staff in schools; and PSFOs will see a pay increase of between 16.9%–17.7% plus time-and-a-half for each hour of approved time-in-lieu.
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.
All educators will be entitled to two professional development days (pro-rata) and have their personal leave increased from 10 to 15 days.
The agreements offer a number of other improvements to working conditions, including better time allowances. Educational Leaders and Nominated Supervisors will be awarded time to help alleviate workload pressures, allocated as a total of one hour per week per service, or banked up and scheduled as two hours per fortnight or four hours per month. Any superior arrangements currently in place can only be altered through consultation.
All staff will be entitled to organisational days – three days per year (pro-rata) to ensure staff have some allocated time to establish their centres and programs. Provisionally registered teachers and their mentors will receive four days of time release per year, while all educators will be entitled to two professional development days (pro-rata) and have their personal leave increased from 10 to 15 days.
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 carers leave). Workers covered by the EEEA will receive the relevant local government entitlement.
The new agreements also include family violence leave of 20 days per year, or the relevant amount in the local government EBA, and five days of union training leave for all members, eight days for sector councillors and time release for VIT reps. Again, workers covered by the EEEA will be entitled to the relevant amount in the local government EBA.