2 October 2019
NZEI Te Riu Roa has launched a bold new campaign to fix the pay gap in early childhood education (ECE) and empower the whole sector at its annual conference in Rotorua this morning.
There is an average 23% pay gap between ECE and kindergarten teachers. By next year, some ECE teachers will be more than 49% behind their kindergarten counterparts with the same experience and qualifications.
Ahead of upcoming negotiations, ECE teachers covered by the Early Childhood Education Collective Agreement (ECECA) have voted to endorse a claim for an immediate pay jolt of 11% and for a stepped out pay plan that will fix the pay gap for good.
ECECA teachers also endorsed a unique campaign plan in which their claim will be voted on by the rest of the ECE sector, including the large amount of ECE teachers who are not union members or covered by a collective agreement.
NZEI Te Riu Roa National Secretary Paul Goulter told conference attendees that the plan is bold and innovative, and it's the first time he's heard of a union reaching outside of its membership to get backing for a claim.
"The ECECA is unique in that it sets the minimum rates for the rest of the ECE sector. That means all ECE teachers, whether they're covered by a collective or not, have a stake in what we're claiming in these negotiations. This campaign is about building the power of the whole ECE sector by joining our voices together and demanding the government fix the pay gap."
ECE teacher Chloe Lundie-Hodge says recent collective agreement settlements in kindergarten and primary have only highlighted how much ECE teachers have been left behind by more than a decade of severe underfunding.
"The gap between ECE and kindergarten teachers is now between 9.5% and 49%. That is just not okay. We need the government to commit to an urgent pay jolt to start closing the gap, and then set out a plan for how they will close the gap for good."
The campaign includes the launch of a website - ECEVoice.org.nz - where the union wants all ECE teachers to vote on the claim.
• The Early Childhood Education Collective Agreement (ECECA) covers only a small percentage of the 30,000 teachers working in ECE, but it sets the minimum pay rates for the sector
• Negotiations for the ECECA are between members of NZEI Te Riu Roa and a number of ECE providers throughout the country. The Ministry of Education is not party to the negotiations, but as the main funder of ECE the government's funding and policy decisions directly impact these negotiations
• ECECA members retain decision-making control over the negotiations and claim process. This campaign is about getting the backing of the whole sector and building power to demand the government increases funding for ECE