The disparity in wages is at the heart of a decision by early childhood educators to walk off the job on March 27.
The assistant national secretary of United Voice, the early childhood union, Helen Gibbons says the inequitable situation can no longer be tolerated.
“We have an educated, skilled workforce only earning around $21 an hour – that’s half the average wage,” she said.
“On March 27 we will see unprecedented action from the sector; it will be the biggest educator walk off Australia has ever seen.
“For the first time ever many centres will close for the day and thousands of families will be affected – this is happening because educators are angry and frustrated at the continued lack of action from the government.
“We are asking the community to stand with us to fight the appalling gender pay gap facing this vital, growing, and important workforce.”
Ms Gibbons said parents cannot afford to pay more, and the union again called on the federal government to support the issue and fund the professional pay Australia’s educators deserve.
We will be asking families to join educators writing letters of protest, rather than the action of the walk out.Megan Jones
Port Macquarie Community Preschool managing director Megan Jones said the centre ‘whole-heartedly supported the action and the cause’.
“But out of respect for our families and as we do not have the opportunity to attend the organised rally feel that we can contribute our advocacy and support other ways,” she said.
“We will be asking families to join educators writing letters of protest, rather than the action of the walk out.
“As a society we recognise the importance of quality early childhood education, it is time that the educators who are providing the education are paid accordingly.”
Mrs Jones said the pay issue is not one that is going to go away.
She said educators were ‘serious about the pay issue, especially when you take into consideration the responsibilities that early childhood educators have and the fact that their entry level wages are lower than those of an untrained retail cashier wage’.
The managing director said the term educator relates to certificate III and diploma trained educators who work in children services.
“The children’s services award 2010 shows that cert III entry level wage on commencement of employment is $18.70 per hour while a diploma entry level wage on commencement of employment is $22.72 per hour.
“To put that into perspective the pay rate for a Coles untrained cashier is $20.18 per hour,” she said.