Unions are really putting in the hard yards this year and have already made some pretty important changes. Not only has a union campaign resulted in NSW parental leave increasing to 14 weeks for the state’s public-sector employees — for both parents — but now early childhood teachers can expect a pay rise, all thanks to union campaigning.
The Independent Education Union of Australia (IEUA), specifically members of the NSW/ACT Branch, secured this win, which saw the Fair Work Commission hand down a decision yesterday, which supports pay rises of up to 10% for early childhood teachers.
If the pay rises are made, the IEUA anticipates 12,000 teachers — who work across 8,000 long day centres — will benefit.
Secretary of the NSW/ACT Brand, Mark Northam called it a significant win, saying that the Fair Work Commission has “recognises the increasing value and importance of the work of all teachers,” specifically focusing on early childhood teachers.
Originally two applications seeking pay-rises for degree-qualified teachers were made, but only the second one was successful. The former focused on gender undervaluation — the early childhood workforce is overwhelmingly female — while the latter sought increases based on work value for all teachers, under the Educational Services (Teachers) Modern Award.
The latter case won, and the decision was based on two key findings.
The first key finding was that, according to a press release, the pay rates for teachers in federal awards — including the Modern Award — had not been properly set according to relevant wage principles.
The second finding was that there have been significant changes in the work of teachers, including their skills and responsibility, that had not been taken into account in the Modern Award rates on pay.
The majority of teachers in schools are paid well above modern award rates — but this does not generally extend to teachers employed in early childhood education. According to Women’s Agenda, some early childhood educators only earn 45 cents above Australia’s national minimum wage.
The next step? Northam has called on governments to “recognise the key role teachers play in early childhood education and support their work” and the Fair Work Commission is listing the matter again to hear further evidence and submissions regarding the capacity of state and federal governments to fund the pay rise.