Six year wait to be heard by FairWork is finally over
The Sector > Workforce > Six year wait to be heard by FairWork is finally over

Six year wait to be heard by FairWork is finally over

by Freya Lucas

June 21, 2019

After waiting nearly six years to be heard, the Independent Education Union (IEU) claim for university qualified early childhood teachers (ECTs) to receive higher pay is before the FairWork Commission, with evidence from IEU witnesses commencing 11 June 2019, to run for approximately four weeks.


The case, if successful, will benefit teachers in preschools and long day care centres in the Newcastle region, as well as setting precedent for other claims of a similar nature. It centres on two key bases for the claim of higher pay rates.


The first is seeking higher rates of pay for teachers in early childhood services, because they are paid less than male employees who have similar skills, qualifications and responsibility.  Early childhood teachers are overwhelmingly female.


The second is that the Teachers Modern Award rates have been set too low and do not reflect the proper value of any teacher, including teacher in schools. The difference in the award for school based teachers and ECTs is that teachers in schools are paid more than the rates in the Modern Award because they are covered by enterprise agreements.


In comparison, a significant number of early childhood teachers, especially in long day care centres, are paid close to the Modern Award rates. The Modern Award rates for experienced teachers are about $30,000 per annum less than the prevailing enterprise agreement rates, which go up to around $100,000.  


In the event that the case currently being presented to FairWork is successful, it is likely to directly affect teachers in for profit centres in the Newcastle region and the six St Nicholas Early Education Centres conducted by the Maitland-Newcastle Catholic Diocese.


The St Nicholas centres are an integral element of the case, an IEU statement read, given that St Nicholas ECTs are paid up to $30,000 less than teachers in schools conducted by the same employer, even though they have the same university training and perform similar duties.


“The disparity must be rectified. It is entirely unreasonable that teachers separated by a school fence, in some instances, can be paid so differently,” IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Assistant Secretary Mark Northam said.  


The case is slated to finish in August, with a decision not expected before the end of the year.

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