On 12 July, the Fair Work Commission approved the Victorian Early Childhood Teachers and Educators Agreement (VECTEA) 2020, which was overwhelmingly endorsed by members. The agreement came into effect on 19 July. Members covered by the VECTEA will receive backpay to the first full pay period on or after 1 October 2020. The new agreement provides significant pay increases and important improvements to conditions, reflecting the professional recognition that early childhood members so rightly deserve. As the two most significant agreements in the sector, the EEEA (Early Education Employees Agreement) and the VECTEA reflect the determined campaigning that members have done in helping to secure some very important outcomes.
We ran VECTEA and EEEA implementation training throughout Term 3 to help members better understand their workplace rights and entitlements, and to help ensure that every aspect covered by the agreements is being implemented and adhered to by employers. The engaging ‘EEEA and VECTEA Online Trivia Night Series’ provided invaluable information on matters such as wages, translation, workload, leave entitlements – and members reported leaving the sessions feeling informed and empowered.
Now that both the EEEA and VECTEA are operational, it is an opportune time for members to engage in conversations with their colleagues, share stories and experiences on the value of unionism, and urge them to join. Asking colleagues to join you as a member of the AEU is a simple and quick action that makes a big difference. We know that a recommendation from a colleague is one of the most effective ways to recruit new members. And don’t forget to encourage pre-service teachers to join too; membership is free for students. We will always be more successful with high numbers of empowered and active members working together.
The latest lockdown has been an extremely trying time for early childhood educators across the state, juggling the switch to remote learning with very little notice. For many regional members, this is the first time they have had to manage that pivot.
It was disappointing that the announcement differed from the early advice, with only one person in a family required to be an authorised worker, providing there is no one else in the household who can suitably supervise. This obviously differs from the advice for schools, where two parents must be authorised. With state and federal funding secured, no staff should be stood down, even where demand is reduced. Nor should centres pressure members to have all staff onsite. The AEU will be monitoring this situation closely.
Finally, following the departure of Lily Ames, we welcome Heidi Ratje as our new Deputy Vice President of Early Childhood. Heidi brings a wealth of union and industry experience to the role. Look out for her introduction in the latest EC sector newsletter.