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Pay Equity Funding Decision Angers Early Childhood Teachers

Early childhood teachers are angry and disappointed by news yesterday that the Government has delayed an in-principle decision to fund pay equity for ECE teachers.

ECE kaiako are part of a large pay equity claim for all teachers across schooling and ECE that was initiated by their union, NZEI Te Riu Roa, in 2020.

Speaking on behalf of NZEI Te Riu Roa, the union for early childhood educators, Virginia Oakly said this news was a huge let down.

“Part of Labour’s last election campaign promise was that they would make it easier for women to gain pay equity. Delaying even an in-principle decision until late 2024 makes a farce of that promise. Refusing to make this decision to fund equitable pay rates for us is a blow to our trust in the government's commitment to the pay equity process."

Ms Oakly said that the decision risked undermining the important and long overdue steps to recognise the complexity and value of the skills, knowledge and experience of early childhood teachers.

"ECE kaiako have campaigned for fair and proper recognition of young children and for those of us who teach them for decades. For far too long our sector has been undervalued, which is ridiculous when you consider we are teaching and caring for children in their most important and vulnerable years. We thought that the Government understood, as we do, that this undervaluation needs to be fixed urgently. It is unconscionable for the Government to leave early childhood teachers in limbo about whether a pay equity settlement for them will be funded by government."

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Pay equity claims are about addressing the historical undervaluing in both pay and status in roles that society has perceived to be ‘women’s work’. The claims are raised by unions under the Equal Pay Amendment Act.

The claim for teachers includes secondary, primary and early education sectors. ECE teachers work across a variety of private companies and community-based organisations.

NZEI Te Riu Roa has today written to the Prime Minister and Leader of Opposition seeking an explicit commitment to ensuring early childhood teachers are not left behind as the teachers pay equity claim progresses.

Notes to editor

At June 2022 there were 32,632 teaching staff (qualified and unqualified) at licensed early childhood services:

The pay equity process is separate and additional to the pay parity process, which has lifted ECE teachers towards a unified pay scale with all other teachers. The 2023 Budget allocated funding for pay parity for ECE teachers whose employers opt in to pay them at the same rate as kindergarten, primary and secondary teachers.

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