Union makes Senate submission saying ECEC educators deserve recognition

by Freya Lucas

May 29, 2020

The United Workers Union has made a submission to the Senate Committee established to explore the Australian Government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic asking them to consider seven key recommendations to ensure the essential workers of Australia, including those working in early childhood education and care (ECEC) are recognised with action that makes “a meaningful contribution to their lives and working conditions.”

 

United Workers Union National Secretary Tim Kennedy said the COVID-19 crisis has “revealed and exacerbated” inequalities in communities and workplaces that require a “progressive vision” to ensure no worker is left behind.

 

The Union, Mr Kennedy said, “represents 150,000 essential workers on the frontline of the COVID-19 crisis” including “the early childhood educators that haven’t stopped working.”

 

“While this Government has recently deemed this work essential, our members have long been undervalued and subjected to precarious working arrangements, low pay and disrespect. For our members and working people around the country, the status quo has always been unequal” he added. 

 

Mr Kennedy said the Union “welcome the opportunity” to put forward recommendations that can advance “a progressive alternative vision” that ensures equity as Australia works to rebuild the economy.

 

The recommendations, he continued, are built on the premise that “returning to the status-quo is folly, and will only mean we lurch into the next crisis sooner.” 

Summary of recommendations

  1. Provision of basic income payment of $750 per week directly payable to all workers financially impacted by COVID-19, including casuals and visa holders.

  2. Maintain the current rate of JobSeeker at $550 per week, extend to all unemployed workers and disability support pension recipients, and permanently abolish mutual obligations.

  3. Visa amnesty for migrant workers and universal healthcare for everyone currently in Australia, including visa holders and undocumented workers.

  4. Universal sick leave that encompasses 20 days paid pandemic leave for all workers, irrespective of how they are classified. This specifically includes casual workers.

  5. Ensure workers and their unions play an active role in developing COVID-19 specific OHS training and practice, with access to necessary PPE.

  6. Bring public services back into public hands.

  7. Invest in renewable energy generation and export infrastructure to rebuild the economy and create secure union jobs for the future.

“Australia is still very lucky. The choices we make now will determine if we continue to be lucky. Together we can choose to build a vibrant and sustainable future that works for the many, not the few,” Mr Kennedy said.

 

The full submission to the Select Committee is available here

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