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Repealing Fair Pay Agreements Undermines Early Childhood Education

The Government’s move to scrap the Fair Pay Agreements Act under urgency will leave teachers and early childhood staff worse off and will lead to poorer educational outcomes for tamariki, says education union NZEI Te Riu Roa.

A Cabinet paper revealed that the move would disproportionately affect women, Māori and Pasifika, and young people – all groups which are over-represented in early childhood education (ECE), where Fair Pay Agreement (FPA) bargaining had been approved earlier this year.

It was also revealed last week that a repeal would proceed without the normal regulatory scrutiny required as Regulatory Impact Statements would not be completed.

NZEI Te Riu Roa ECE representative Sandie Burn, who teaches in Motueka, says she’s bitterly disappointed the ECE Fair Pay Agreement has been scrapped by the new Government.

“This was such an opportunity to affect really positive change and get common wages and conditions across the sector for our kaiako and kaimahi,” says Burn.

“We will continue to fight on to ensure ECE teachers are properly valued regardless, but Fair Pay Agreements were a golden opportunity with so much potential to resolve some of the long-standing inequities across the sector.”

NZEI Te Riu Roa National Secretary Stephanie Mills says Fair Pay Agreements are a pragmatic, common-sense means for workers to come together with employers in their industry and set minimum terms and conditions.

“Kaiako and kaimahi in ECE have been looking forward to working as a whole sector to raise pay and working conditions to improve the quality of ECE we can provide to our tamariki. Teachers’ working conditions are children’s learning conditions.

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“We’ve also received assurances from employers in the sector that they are willing to follow the process and see the value of working with the union around these core issues. Now the Government is removing that opportunity.”

Mills says the urgency with which it is repealing FPAs, even against official advice, reveals a deeply ideological approach from the new Government.

“Taking away hundreds of millions of dollars from teachers and low-paid support staff during a cost-of-living crisis is an attack on working people, driven by a radical right-wing agenda.

“We know that the first 1000 days are the most important to create a strong foundation for the future of our tamariki. Early childhood educators and support staff will continue to fight for all tamariki to ensure they have access to the education they deserve.”

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