The cost of pay equity

IEUA Federal Secretary Chris Watt, IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Assistant Secretary Carol Matthews and I met with Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education Amanda Rishworth in April.

We discussed the IEU’s Equal Remuneration/Work Value case with a view to provide further information regarding the cost of achieving pay equity for early childhood teachers and to secure support from the ALP for the case.

The IEU indicated we are seeking:

A commitment that the Commonwealth requires early learning services to improve pay rates of early childhood teachers as a condition of either Commonwealth Child Care Subsidy or as part of the Commonwealth-State Universal Access Agreements.

A statement of in-principle support in the equal remuneration/work value case, including a reference to a preparedness to consider funding support in the event that services face difficulty in meeting increased costs of teacher wages.

The IEU demonstrated that larger employers, particularly in the not-for-profit sector, have already made substantial progress towards pay equity within the current system. As a result, the amount of additional funding needed to increase rates of pay could be an amount significantly lower than the actual $35,000 per teacher difference between primary teacher salaries and the current Modern Award rate.

In addition, as early childhood services must currently employ only one teacher, increasing to up to two teachers in 2020 according to the National Regulation (acknowledging that NSW has higher mandatory employment of teacher requirements than other states) the cost of achieving pay parity should only have an approximate impact of 2-3% on current fees.

Rishworth is a strong advocate for standalone community based centres and she expressed concerns regarding the impact increasing salaries would have on these services. She indicated that the ALP did not want fees to increase for parents and consideration needs to be given in regard to how salary increases could be achieved without impacting parents.

[If you work in a standalone preschool or long day care centre and you are paid above award rates please email the annual salary for a four year trained teacher at the top of the incremental scale at your centre]

The IEU emphasised that Commonwealth funding must be directly tied to improving the rates of pay for teachers in order to prevent employers from using such funding for other purposes, such as boosting profits/returns to shareholders.

KU negotiations

The KU Children’s Services Teachers Enterprise Agreement has been distributed to teachers and voting closes on 3 April. The IEU recommended a ‘yes’ vote to members. Over 80% of KU teachers who voted, voted in support of the agreement. The agreement includes 2.5% annual increases to salaries and allowances payable in 2019, 2020 and 2021. The salary for a four year trained teacher at the top of the incremental scale working in long day care is now $102,984 or if employed in a preschool is now $99,025. Once approved by FWC, teachers and directors will be entitled to a paid meal break of 50 minutes per day and programing time will be increased to four hours per week (pro rata for part time teachers). The agreement also includes paid parental leave of up to 14 weeks.

Wrong pay

The IEU has made an application to vary the Educational Services (Teachers) Award because some for profit employers (including G8 with 516 early learning centres around Australia) are employing degree qualified teachers as centre directors but paying them under the Children’s Services Award. Some of our members are earning $8 per hour less than the Modern Award rate for teachers. This case will be heard starting on 6 May.

Lisa James