The AEU secured the first multi-employer agreement in early childhood back in 1998 and, with changes to IR laws now in place, we are working hard to establish a national MEA.
Following the introduction of the Secure Wages, Better Pay Act, changes to the way that bargaining works are about to came into effect on 6 June. This will mean better access to multi-employer bargaining to allow workers to bargain collectively, even when engaged by different employers.
These new industrial relations laws mean that more employees in the early childhood sector will be able to be part of industry-based agreements, which not only provide for better pay and conditions but also allow members to take legally protected industrial action during a bargaining period. This is particularly beneficial for workers employed in early childhood education and care services (ECEC), including long day care, and will assist in creating better standards across the sector, leading to improved wage growth.
The AEU, the United Workers Union and the Independent Education Union have lodged an application with the Fair Work Commission to commence multi-employer bargaining with national early childhood education and care providers. We will be seeking a 25% pay increase for teachers and educators who are currently employed in these centres and are covered by modern awards rather than agreements.
The current inequities in pay and conditions between teachers and educators in sessional kinder programs and teachers in ECEC kinder programs are unacceptable.
When advocating for workers in early childhood education and care centres, we have been discussing the implications of new laws with key providers and stakeholders, including federal Early Childhood minister Anne Aly and the Employment and Workplace Relations minister Tony Burke. Through the AEU, IEU and UWU’s advocacy, all parties have acknowledged that early childhood teachers and educators deserve professional wages and recognition. We know that a funded, national agreement is the best way to deliver an increase in wages and that such an increase is desperately needed.
For Victoria, a national and statewide bargaining strategy for the AEU is especially important, as the Best Start Best Life reforms mean an expansion of three and four-year-old kindergarten over the next ten years, requiring more than 11,000 additional teachers and educators. To attract and retain a qualified workforce, professional wages and good conditions are imperative.
The current inequities in pay and conditions between teachers and educators in sessional kinder programs and teachers in ECEC kinder programs are unacceptable. Through multi-employer bargaining and working with the other education unions, there is a real opportunity to set a new benchmark standard for those employed in ECEC services.
The AEU Victorian branch has a long, proud history of enterprise bargaining, securing the first multi-employer agreement in early childhood in 1998. We are going to work hard to ensure that we have the same success with a national early childhood multi-employer agreement, and work to ensure that more members in ECEC centres are covered by union-negotiated agreements.