Early childhood education (ECE) teachers across the country are celebrating this morning following a $600m commitment by the Labour Party to move towards pay parity for qualified teachers if re-elected.
NZEI Te Riu Roa says the policy commitment will have a significant impact for ECE kaiako who are currently paid up to 49% less than other teachers with the same skills, qualifications and experience.
“This is a huge win, and it’s all because teachers and their communities came together collectively to campaign for change,” NZEI Te Riu Roa’s President, Liam Rutherford, says.
“Thanks to the attention kaiako and whānau have brought to the issue, we’ve now seen commitments to pay parity from Labour and from the Green Party. Now we’d love to see that same commitment from other parties ahead of the election too.”
Wellington ECE teacher Melissa Burgess says that she and her colleagues jumped for joy when they heard the announcement.
“Seeing this commitment from Labour is a huge relief. Right now, as teachers we're providing critical services to our communities – but decades of underfunding have meant many services are at breaking point," she says.
"Investing in teachers is investing in children. Pay parity will allow kaiako to actually pay the bills – but also give us dignity and the recognition we deserve as teachers."
Mr Rutherford says that the campaign for parity has been long fought, but has found traction this year following the launch of NZEI Te Riu Roa’s ECE Voice campaign.
He says that if Labour is re-elected, the union will work with the incoming government to push for parity to be implemented as soon as possible, and to ensure all additional funding goes directly to teachers’ wages.
Mr Rutherford adds that there are other inequities in early childhood services that still need attention. “We also urgently need to see similar action to address the inadequate pay for our kaimahi in Kōhanga Reo, many of whom struggle to get paid even the minimum wage.”