Early Childhood New early childhood agreements reached

When we set out to negotiate with the Early Learning Association Australia (ELAA) and the Municipal Association of Victoria (MAV), we knew what we wanted to see in our new agreements (VECTEA and EEEA). AEU members had asked us to address three key issues: a significant increase in salaries for educators, pay parity for teachers with their colleagues in schools, and alleviating workload pressures.

I’m happy to say that we have, for the first time, been able to negotiate in- principle agreements with the employers that address our key issues. These include pay parity with public school teachers at every point on the classification structure and replacing the current validation process with a checklist to be completed by the teacher and employer.

For educators, we have agreed to a restructure of the classification scale, which will deliver pay increases to help bridge the salary gap with your education support colleagues in schools.

However, despite the positive progress with employers, the fight is far from over. As you know, bringing these achievements into reality requires government funding. The current public sector wages policy mandates salary increases of 2%, which will make the next stage of negotiations with DET very challenging. We know from past experience that we will have to continue to negotiate on the salaries and conditions the employers have agreed to in-principle.

When advocating to government, our strength is in our numbers, and it’s important for everyone to be part of the collective effort.

Depending on how those negotiations proceed, members may be asked to engage in some campaigning activities to deliver on the salaries and conditions you so rightly deserve.

On the workload front, we have been successful in negotiating better time allocations for educators. Under the new agreements, time must be allocated to staff performing the educational leader and nominated supervisor roles.

Furthermore, time must allocated for crucial tasks, including writing transition statements, second-year applications, KIS (Kindergarten Inclusion Support Program) applications and school assessments.

Employers agree that educators deserve time for professional development each year and that teachers and educators should have access to Professional Practice Days. New graduates and mentors also deserve more time for mentoring. Under the VECTEA, educators will also be granted more non-contact time – 20 minutes per hour, up from 15 minutes per hour.

The issue of leave will also be addressed. We know that early childhood educators deserve the same amount of personal leave as teachers. Under the new agreements, paid parental leave will be a genuine leave entitlement, not simply
a payment, while all staff will get 20 days family violence leave per year (or the relevant amount in their local government EBA). In addition, AEU members will receive union training leave of five days per year. PSFOs and advisors will see an increase to their time-in-lieu and those workers covered by the VECTEA will be paid time when out-of-hours work is required by the employer.

While the AEU’s objective was to achieve similar conditions as far as possible, MAV and ELAA had some differing views on particular issues. We endeavoured to achieve consistency where possible, but the reality is that some conditions will differ.

We are now at the stage where DET will model funding for the agreements and, pending approval by the state government, will then return to the AEU, ELAA and MAV with a funding package.

Please share this information with your colleagues and encourage non-members to join. We have never seen an in-principle agreement like this, but we will need to campaign to achieve these wins.

When advocating to government, our strength is in our numbers, and it’s important for everyone to be part of the collective effort.

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