Early Childhood Improving early childhood pay and conditions

This term we commenced the log of claims (LOC) process for the next early childhood benchmark agreements, the VECTEA and EEEA. The LOC will capture as many voices as possible from sessional kinders, community-based early childhood services or long day care (LDC), and kinders co-located with schools, metro and regional. 

To this end, ahead of formal negotiations commencing in Term 1 next year, a group of campaign leaders will be trained and resourced to join us at the bargaining table at different times through the process. 

The new agreements must build on previous gains, and we will be advocating for professional salaries and entitlements that address workload, such as a reduction in teaching time. We will also be pushing for the pay equity that would naturally follow the removal of the capability assessment barrier so that ECTs can achieve pay parity with comparable roles in schools. Crucially, educator wages must be aligned with education support staff wages.

It is important, too, that we also achieve cultural and ceremonial leave for our First Nations members, and any specific claims for LGBTQIA+ members, as well as progressive women’s claims including those related to reproductive health. 

With all EC bargaining, we refer to the two benchmark agreements, VECTEA and EEEA, as the standard. When working with members employed under other agreements, we seek pay and conditions that ensure parity with the VECTEA and EEEA. 

With the recent expansion of two years of free kindergarten, there is significant demand for teachers and educators – employers need to offer the sector standard pay and conditions, or their staff will seek employment elsewhere. 

In other bargaining news, members at the City of Kingston are awaiting a response after members unanimously rejected an offer that didn’t properly address pay inequities. Bargaining for KU Children’s Services has commenced across the country, and bargaining at Goodstart, City of Casey and Moonee Valley City Council will commence in 2024. 

The AEU, IEU and UWU have made history by filing for a supported bargaining authorisation, and members employed in early childhood services (LDC) can now bargain together with multiple employers. This gives teachers and educators new leverage to achieve salaries and conditions comparable with members working in the community and local government sectors.  

In another cause for celebration, workers on minimum wages or modern awards over the past two years have had significant wage increases. In early June, the Fair Work Commission handed down its decision in the annual wage review, granting a 5.75% wage increase for those employed under modern awards.

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