Labour nearly there on pay parity commitment for next term

12 September 2020

Chris Hipkins' strong comments in support of early childhood education pay parity this week are promising, but the sector needs a firm commitment and funding, says NZEI Te Riu Roa.

Despite having specialist qualifications at the same level, and comparable roles to their counterparts in Kindergarten and primary, most qualified ECE kaiako receive substantially lower pay - as much as 49% less.

At NZEI Te Riu Roa's Early Childhood Education Election Forum on Wednesday night, the current Minister of Education told viewers that "we’re going to have to change the overall funding system" to deliver pay parity, and that he'd "be aiming to complete that process during the next term of government". The comments are the furthest the Minister has gone in publicly committing to parity next term, if reelected.

"The Minister's comments are really encouraging to hear," says NZEI Te Riu Roa President Liam Rutherford. "We desperately need the sort of bold transformation he's talking about. While he all but committed to parity for ECE teachers in the next parliamentary term, he has stopped short of making any real, tangible commitments around funding and timeframes. Ultimately, our ECE kaiako need to see parties committing to deliver parity next term ahead of next month's election."

"More and more stories are coming to light of kaiako stretching to work additional jobs just to get by, or even leaving the sector entirely", says Mr Rutherford. "This just isn't sustainable - especially at a time when we critically need these skilled people supporting our families as we recover from the effects of COVID-19."

"We want to see these specialist teachers freed up to support our children's learning, not forced to worry about where their own children's next meal will come from."

"We're in a situation now where the low pay in the sector is driving people away - we're both losing our experienced teachers, and having fewer people entering training - worsening an already existent teacher shortage."

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