Fair Work Commission green lights ECEC wage negotiations
The Sector > Workforce > Advocacy > Green light received for educator wage increase negotiations to begin

Green light received for educator wage increase negotiations to begin

by Jason Roberts

September 28, 2023
FWC commission

The Fair Work Commission (FWC) has approved the making of a supported bargaining authorisation that will allow key early childhood education and care (ECEC) stakeholders to start wage negotiations that could lead to an agreement to increase wages for educators. 


The application to progress negotiations was initially lodged on 6 June 2023 by the United Workers’ Union (UWU), the Australian Education Union (AEU) and the Independent Education Union of Australia (IEU) and marks the first such authorisation since the Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill was passed by the Senate in November 2022. 


In reaching their decision the FWC highlighted the following as reasons to authorise negotiations to begin:


  • low rates of pay at or close to the award minima prevail in the ECEC sector;
  • the employers specified in the authorisation have a number of significant common interests;
  • the likely number of bargaining representatives is small and consistent with a manageable collective bargaining process;
  • the specified employers support the making of the authorisation;
  • the grant of the authorisation may promote gender equality in a female-dominated sector; and
  • support is required in order to improve the uptake of enterprise bargaining in the sector;


Joining the Unions on the authorisation are sixty four employers operating in the ECEC sector who will be represented via three peak bodies, the Australian Childcare Alliance (ACA), Community Early Learning Australia (CELA), Community Child Care Association (CCCA) and G8 Education. 


What happens next and is an educator wage increase now more likely? 


Now the authorisation to engage in wage negotiations has been granted the Unions and Employers will meet to start a negotiation process on behalf of their stakeholders. 


If the two groups can reach an agreement on an appropriate pay increase for educators then the next step is to understand how the pay increases can be implemented without the additional costs being passed on to families in the form of higher fees. 


This step may see the Federal Government invited to join the negotiations as a potential funding party. 


It is still too early to draw conclusions on the amount of pay increases and who is going to fund them but the FWC’s decision to authorise the start of negotiations is an important step towards the goal of higher wages. 


The FWC authorisation does not stipulate a timeline for the commencement of the negotiation process although expectations are that it will commence at some point in the foreseeable future. 

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