Early childhood sector calls for action on pay parity in Day of Action

4 November 2021

Early childhood teachers and their supporters are holding a Day of Action on Saturday 6 November to make it clear to the Education Minister Chris Hipkins that they want immediate action on pay parity to help address a growing staffing crisis.

They will be gathering across Aotearoa from 10.30am on Saturday to be #LOUD4ECE and voice their frustrations and concerns for the sector. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, many gatherings have shifted online or become ‘action stations’ where people can be #LOUD4ECE in bubbles.

Qualified early childhood kaiako (teachers) are paid up to 52% less than their Kindergarten colleagues for performing the same job with the same qualifications.

Stories collected in a survey by NZEI Te Riu Roa at the start of this year illustrated the significant impact this low pay has on many of these teachers, and their concern that their related stress has a negative impact on the children they teach. The lack of funding in the sector has also led to a teacher shortage, both with teachers leaving early childhood centres and very low numbers of people going into ECE teacher training.

ECE kaiako and NZEI Te Riu Roa union member Karyn Flett, says it’s important to show the Minister how urgent this is for educators, tamariki, and their whānau.

“The biggest thing impacting on early childcare services now is the pay discrepancy. It’s really disheartening. You could have a degree and many years of experience and be paid 52% less than if you were working in a kindergarten."

"Why is the government funding us differently when we’re doing the same role? It’s not just pay parity, but our working conditions as well. Kaiako are leaving the sector at a time when we should be attracting quality staff to educate our tamariki in their foundation years.”

The government needs to keep their promises, NZEI Te Riu Roa President Liam Rutherford says.  

"ECE services provide essential value to our tamariki and their whānau every day, and yet many services are understaffed and can’t afford to pay teachers what they’re worth. The government partially backtracking on their initial commitment for pay parity is not good enough." 

"Investing in our teachers means we're investing in our tamariki and their quality education. This Day of Action is about the need to pay our kaiako fairly – we want to retain our experienced teachers and continue to attract new ones."

Only 62% of ECE services have currently opted into the higher funding rates to pay their teachers parity. This means that 1000s of teachers will still miss out. The sector is urging the Minister of Education to make a firm commitment to fund pay parity for early childhood teachers in the 2022 budget.

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