We're working towards parity with enterprise agreements

If we keep absorbing the costs of running a service by accepting lower wages we are cross subsidising the state government.

The time has come around again for the renewal of our enterprise agreement. At my service we have been working hard over the past six years to achieve pay parity with teachers who work in the primary sector. This has often been a hard fought battle but the renewal of our third agreement in September will see us reach parity.

Why is this important?

Firstly we need to consider our value and professional status – we have the same qualifications and we teach children at the most important stage of their lives. Research confirms this.

Second, we need to consider the long term effects of under payment. The longer we are below parity the worse our futures will be – poorer lifestyle for yourself and your family, less super, working longer and poorer retirement prospects.

A recent report from the Senate Economics Reference Committee on the Economic Security for Women in Retirement was entitled A Husband is not a Retirement Plan. We need financial security of our own.

How can we achieve pay parity?

It is very hard if you are in a stand alone service. Often you are negotiating with committees who are also families at the centre and their aim is to drive fees down not up. You may be negotiating with an owner/operator who sees their profit margin fall if they increase wages.

Services in my area have tried to work as a team. We can’t negotiate together but by ‘joining forces’ we can compare and use these comparisons to improve wages. We need to be strong and focus on the value of our work. Yes it might drive fees up in the short term but if we keep absorbing the costs of running a service by accepting lower wages then the NSW Government will never step up and increase funding to the sector. We are cross subsidising the state government by doing this.

Graduating teachers are not choosing to work in early childhood – why would they when they can earn so much more in the primary sector? How can we attract and retain teachers to the sector?

We are in danger of losing many wonderful teachers who are tired of working for poor wages. Now that we will be accredited teachers will be able to work in the primary sector. Why would they choose to stay in early childhood?

Contact some services close to you and see how you can work together to achieve your goal. It may be a long process but we need to work towards parity now.

Gabe Connell
Vice President ECS