NZ early childhood teachers rally to prevent paycuts
The Sector > Workforce > Advocacy > As Australia’s Budget shows ECEC progress, NZ ECTs are rallying to prevent pay cuts

As Australia’s Budget shows ECEC progress, NZ ECTs are rallying to prevent pay cuts

by Freya Lucas

May 15, 2024

Early childhood teachers (ECTs) in New Zealand are calling on their local MPs and communities to support them in their fight to protect their sector from potential pay cuts and ‘further concerning deregulation.’


Education union NZEI Te Riu Roa is running meetings across NZ, opening these meetings up to the community for the first time, aiming to address issues such as the importance of maintaining existing pay parity commitments for early childhood kaiako (teachers).


ECT and NZEI Te Riu Roa National Executive member Virginia Oakly is concerned that the NZ Government’s recent deregulation moves have left members anxious about what’s to come.


“There’s a high degree of uncertainty and a lot of fear among those working in early childhood right now,” she said.


“The Government has swiftly set up terms of reference for a regulatory review of the sector, yet without any legislative mandate for its Regulation Ministry having been formally agreed by Parliament.”


“It’s all moving very quickly, and it’s clear from the Associate Minister of Education’s statements in Parliament that the voices he is listening to are not those of the teaching workforce.”


Ms Oakly expressed concern that the NZ Government “is clearly signaling for the early childhood sector – it seems intent on putting business rather than children and their teachers first.” 


Members have invited MPs to the meetings to learn about the issues teachers face and to seek their support for early childhood kaiako, kaimahi (workers), and the tamariki (children) they teach.


The union is concerned about the potential loss of hard-won rights for early childhood teachers, such as pay parity, something it believes would be “hugely detrimental” to the sector.


“We worked so hard to have those pay steps and to bring that in. It’s a positive change that plays an essential role in creating a sustainable workforce and attracting new teachers to the profession – particularly as we are in the middle of a chronic and serious staffing shortage,” Ms Oakly said.


“We want our communities to come out knowing what our priorities are and to be ready to stand up with teachers for the rights of our tamariki mokopuna (children and their descendants) to high-quality early childhood education, led by qualified teachers, with safe teacher-to-child ratios.”


Learn more about NZEI Te Riu Roa here

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