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Early Childhood Teachers Take Historic Action

Early childhood teachers covered by two significant collective agreements are taking historic action tomorrow morning by holding paid union meetings – the first time they’ve taken such a step.

The NZEI Te Riu Roa members, covered by the Early Childhood Education Collective Agreement (ECECA) and Barnardos collective agreement, work in more than 130 centres across the country. They are meeting to discuss the next steps in their negotiations and campaign for parity with teachers in Kindergarten and primary.

Teachers covered by the ECECA were offered a new minimum rate of $49,862 and a 1.5% increase to other printed rates. Barnardos teachers were offered no increase to printed rates aside from a new minimum rate of $49,862.

The teachers are currently paid an average of 24% less than teachers in Kindergarten and primary school with the same qualifications.

Anneke Bhat, a member of the Early Childhood Education Collective Agreement negotiation team, says what’s needed is government intervention.

“The employers in both of these agreements have been clear that they’ll return to the table if the Government provides more funding – they want to see pay parity too. On average we’re paid 24% less than teachers in Kindergarten. We’re not asking for that to be fixed in one go, but what we do need is a clear plan for how the Government is going to fix the gap,” she says.

“Early childhood education is broken and we need the Government to step in. The teacher shortage is only going to get worse as the pay gap widens – and that’s not good for children. If we value children, then we need to start valuing ECE.”

NZEI Te Riu Roa is urging the public the get behind early childhood teachers by signing up at

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