Addressing the misconceptions

Earlier this month there was a news item on Sunrise and an online survey asking, ‘Should childcare workers be paid the same as engineers’? Of course, this caused a great deal of debate on social media with many people not understanding the issues.

The news report was completely wrong and misrepresented what is actually happening industrially for early childhood teachers – not childcare workers. Once again, the media has it all wrong!

I would like to clear up a couple of misconceptions in regard to the comparison with engineers. The case being run by IEU is a pay equity case – not a work value case. The IEU ran a work value case several years ago and won despite several employer bodies fighting against it. We received pay increases from that case.

Unfortunately, we then had the modern award and we had to bargain for our own enterprise agreements. Some early childhood teachers had their wages preserved but frozen until the modern award caught up, and new teachers were often put on the modern award.

You run these cases in different ways. A pay equity case means we have to prove that we are underpaid due to our gender, not because we are less qualified! The IEU had to find a male dominated profession that had a four year university degree qualification and prove they do work of equal or comparable value but are paid more.

In this day and age it is hard to find one. Many of our members are witnesses in this case – we have been interviewed at length and provided witness statements which describe exactly what we do and our high levels of knowledge and expertise and our value. We will also appear before the Fair Work Commission. Many people with high levels of expertise in this area of industrial relations have spent hours on research in order to make these comparisons.

The IEU is funding this for you. Before you cast negative or disparaging comments about this, please understand the facts, the history of this and trust it is being managed by experts. Don’t be fooled by sensational headlines and rubbishy news reports. Negativity could damage this case. You can help by supporting the unions involved and explaining the case to your employers, committees and communities and seeking their support.

You also need to tell your early childhood colleagues about this and what it means for them and encourage them to join the Union. Many teachers are not members of the Union but reap the benefits of the work which the Union does on members’ behalf. Is it fair we pay fees for others to benefit? We should all be in this fight together if we expect to benefit from the outcome.

Gabe Connell
Vice President ECS