children playing

Time is right for early childhood teachers’ pay equity claim

Printer-friendly versionSend by emailPDF version
Early Childhood New Zealand
Publication Date: 
26 Jun 2017


“A teacher is a teacher is a teacher,” said ECNZ Chief Executive Kathy Wolfe. “Early childhood teachers study for Bachelor’s degrees the same as Primary teachers, they guide and educate our children at a crucial stage of their development, and yet at entry level they are paid on average $13,000 less than Primary teachers[1]. That’s not just a measure of how ECE is held in lower regard, but a reflection of the 97% female workforce[2] and the failure to act on 45-year old pay equity legislation.

“It was obvious from the moment the justice of the aged care workers’ claim was acknowledged that there had to be a similar move in the ECE sector. One great benefit that will flow from this action is that people will have an opportunity to see exactly what ECE teachers do and why they deserve more recognition. It’s not just messy play and singing songs – our teachers are trained to understand and recognise a child’s learning and cognitive development. They provide the environment and the experiences for children to lay the foundations for future learning at Primary and Secondary school and beyond. They are also responsible for the safety and wellbeing of our youngest children while they are still completely dependent on adults and taking their first steps away from the full-time care of their parents or caregivers.

“It’s bad enough that the pay of ECE teachers has been choked off by years of under-investment by the government. To be paid less than comparable workers to begin with just because traditionally most of them are women, is to rub salt in the wound.

“There are employers in the sector who are already committed to fair pay and conditions for their workforce through the Early Childhood Education Collective Employment Agreement (ECECEA), but who do want to acknowledge further equity for their qualified staff. This claim is a step in the right direction but we would advocate further for pay parity with Primary coupled with restoration of 100% qualified teacher led services. And we advocate that any pay equity movement relating to remuneration flows directly into terms and conditions and ongoing professional learning and development.

“The successful conclusion of the aged care workers’ case should ensure that this claim can be swiftly resolved and ECE teachers and support workers don’t need to wait years more for a move towards fair pay.

“All teachers do an amazing and invaluable job. Let’s make sure they are all rewarded fairly, no matter what kind of early learning centre they work in, whatever level they teach at, or whether they are women or men.”

-reprinted from Scoop Independent News Media