IEU calls for urgent action to address ECEC workforce crisis
The Sector > Workforce > IEU calls for urgent action to address ECEC workforce crisis

IEU calls for urgent action to address ECEC workforce crisis

by Freya Lucas

August 29, 2022

The Independent Education Union (IEU) has called for urgent action in the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector, ahead of the Federal Government’s Jobs and Skills Summit to be held on 1-2 September. 


Services across the country are struggling to fulfill their staffing ratios, the Union said, and school leavers are not attracted to the profession due to the poor pay and conditions.


IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Secretary Mark Northam described a sector which is fragmented, with early childhood teachers (ECTs) and their union representatives forced to bargain with hundreds of different employers, something he described as “an uphill battle”.


“Sometimes those employers can be volunteer committees, unfamiliar with the industrial relations system. The industrial landscape is adversarial and plays a big role in the crisis in staffing that we see unfolding right now,” he continued.


“To fix this we need an even playing field, with sector-wide bargaining for all teachers. The same conditions that apply to school teachers must apply to early childhood teachers, as they have the same qualifications, and undertake the same accreditation through the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) as school teachers.”


The IEU finalised a work value case for ECTs at the Fair Work Commission (FWC) in 2021 which resulted in a 3.5 per cent to 18 per cent pay increase for teachers under the modern award.


The FWC Full Bench found that “the exercise of professional skills and judgement, the overall work value, involved in early childhood teaching was the same as that of school teachers. The rates of pay do not recognise that teachers are degree-qualified professionals,” 


As such, Mr Northam said, it was time to rebuild the industrial relations system so pay and conditions reflected what early childhood teachers are worth.


“This issue should be top of the agenda at the Federal Government Jobs and Skill Summit at Parliament House.


“Otherwise, this crisis will deepen, and some centres will have to close their doors to children and children because there are not enough staff for them to operate.


“This will be disastrous for families, employers and the productivity of Australia.”

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