Early childhood staff strike for better pay

The childcare industry, made up mostly of women, is pushing for a 30 per cent pay rise for workers.
The childcare industry, made up mostly of women, is pushing for a 30 per cent pay rise for workers.

Early childhood educators across the country say "enough is enough" to a "measly" $21 per hour and will walk off the job on Tuesday in a fight for better pay.

Parents were being asked to keep their children at home so educators can send a message to the Turnbull government about how serious they were about the equal pay issue.

The action came after the federal government failed to meet a February 1 deadline set by their union to deliver funding for equal pay.

"Malcolm Turnbull has driven educators to take this extreme step as he continues to ignore their demand for equal pay," Helen Gibbons, assistant national secretary of United Voice, the early childhood union told reporters in Sydney in February.

Childcare workers were being paid half the average weekly wage, which can no longer be tolerated, she said.

"Everybody knows this except Malcolm Turnbull," she said.

The industry, made up mostly of women, is pushing for a 30 per cent pay rise for workers.

"After years of fighting for pay equity, early childhood educators have had enough," said early childhood educator Gwendolyn Alcock on Sunday.

Being paid a "measly" $21 an hour was "unacceptable" said Ms Alcock, who has worked in the industry for seven years.

"This is not satisfactory. It's why we're embarking on our biggest action yet," she said.

A national TV, radio and newspaper campaign was launched earlier this year asking Australians to back their fight.

"We can't continue to have a world-class system with people being paid appalling wages to deliver it," Ms Gibbons said.

"We are asking the community to stand with us to fight," she said.

It was "outrageous that in 2018 female-dominated industries in Australia are still fighting to receive equal pay," she said.

Parents, she said, can't afford to pay any more for education - the federal government needed to step in and fund the sector properly.

"Parents across Australia know very clearly where the blame for this lies," Ms Gibbons said.

Ms Gibbons said the situation has been an escalating crisis. It's the third nationwide walk-off in the past 12 months in the sector.

More than 3000 childcare workers last walked out of centres nationwide on September 7.

On March 27, some childcare centres will close for the whole day, others will close at lunchtime and some will close certain rooms. – AAP

FEDERAL MEMBER FOR NEWCASTLE BACKS STRIKE

Federal Member for Newcastle Sharon Claydon has backed Newcastle’s early childhood educators walking off the job 

Ms Claydon said the ‘pitiful wages paid to early childhood educators in no way reflects their massive contribution to our community’.

“It’s wrong that the people who are responsible for educating young Novacastrians at such a critical stage in their lives are paid less than half the average national wage,” Ms Claydon said.

“If we don’t pay our early childhood educators properly, we won’t be able to attract the skilled workers we need to ensure our children get the best start in life.”

Ms Claydon said the Turnbull Government had failed early childhood workers and the children that they educate.

“The Government needs to sit down with early childhood educators and map out a path forward.”

Ms Claydon said she thought the community would understand the action, but recommended keeping children at home if at all possible.

“Parents know better than anyone else the true value of our early childhood educators, so I’m sure they’ll understand this strike action is necessary to ensure we can maintain a skilled, qualified workforce to educate our youngest Novocastrians,” Ms Claydon said.

This story Early childhood staff strike for better pay saying ‘enough is enough’ first appeared on Newcastle Herald.

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