Not good enough: Members reject KU offer

Welcome to 2024. We hope our members in the early childhood education and care sector have had a well-deserved break.

Negotiations for a new enterprise agreement (EA) between the IEU and KU began in April 2023, and meetings will continue in 2024.

While the IEU welcomes KU’s revised offer of 4% increases to salaries and allowances a year, we note there is no intention to introduce an Educational Leader allowance.

The IEU held Zoom meetings late last year with members to gain their feedback on KU’s offer and members overwhelmingly indicated they did not accept it.

The offer so far

Under KU’s proposal, programming time for full-time teachers would increase by one hour per week but no time was offered for completing the now-compulsory Transition to School Statements, Individual Behaviour Support Plans, Individual Learning Plans, funding applications or specialist reports.

Some items have been agreed in-principle, including:

  • paid parental leave to increase to 15 weeks after four years of service
  • five days’ paid disaster leave (the disaster must be declared by the NSW Government)
  • five days’ paid pandemic leave (the pandemic must be declared by the government)
  • two days’ paid cultural leave for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employees
  • gender affirmation leave
  • 10% discount for employees whose children attend a KU centre.
  • Falling short

    However, despite the IEU repeatedly raising the issue of unsustainable teacher workloads and excessive hours of unpaid work, KU’s offer failed to adequately address this critical issue.

    KU offered an additional 10 discretionary days per year for directors, far short of the IEU’s claim for one additional day per week. Members expressed concerns that they have difficulty accessing discretionary days due to the lack of availability of relief staff, causing them to be redirected away from discretionary days to cover unplanned absences. Some members report having been directed to use discretionary days for specific purposes.

    The union also sought confirmation from KU that directors would not be expected to share the proposed additional discretionary days with educational leader support employees, but KU declined to provide any such clarification. While KU agreed to establish a Directors’ Administration Working Party, the IEU is concerned that KU has said any recommendations from the working party will be non-binding.

    What’s next

    On 21 December, the IEU wrote to KU to advise that the union rejected its offer due to inadequate non-contact time for directors and a lack of non-contact time for the extensive Educational Leader role.

    The union’s meeting with KU is scheduled for 21 February and we will update you again shortly after it.

    Lisa James