Unions unhappy with Government's pay parity pathway for early childhood teachers

Education unions are unhappy with the Governments announcement about how pay parity for early childhood services will be delivered.
Minister of Education Chris Hipkins announced on Wednesday how the pay boost for early learning teachers would come into effect.

In May, Hipkins committed $170 million to deliver pay parity for early childhood teachers.

Along with an increase to the lowest salaries, a new funding rate was announced which centres and services could access, if they agreed to pay teachers in line with the first six steps of the 10-step kindergarten teachers collective agreement.

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That meant teachers working outside the kindergarten system who had six years experience would be paid the same as their kindergarten counterparts with the same experience.

The Government has now delayed the requirement for centres to pay teachers up to step six to receive the funding.

Centres will now be able to access the funding if they pay teachers up to step five of the pay scale in 2022, Hipkins said in a media statement.

Teachers who meet the requirement for step six pay will be delayed being paid this rate until the following year, from January 1 2023, Hipkins said.

This was changed to encourage more services to take part in the pay parity agreement, he said.

Weve now separated step six from steps one to five to encourage more early learning services to opt in immediately.

Its a pragmatic decision that reflects a complex sector with public, private and NGO sector operators using a range of business models.

Education minister Chris Hipkins at the announcement for new ECE funding for teachers in May.

But Education Institute president Liam Rutherford described this decision as backpedalling.

Removing the requirement for centres to pay their teachers up to step six in 2022 affected at least 5300 teachers, Rutherford said in a statement.

Moving the goalposts backwards now is betraying the commitment the Government made in May.

Essentially, these teachers are being asked to wait another year before they'll get paid fairly.

Moa Kids Community Early Learning Centre is one of eleven recipients of an ECE Hero award, nominated by the community and acknowledging heroism over the last year.

Chief executive of the Early Childhood Council, Sue Kurtovich, agreed.

In a statement, Kurtovich said the pay parity offer had been watered down by removing step six for 2022.

The Early Childhood Council had approached the Minister with practical and simple solutions to enable more providers to opt in, but that was not taken up, Kurtovich said.

Hipkins was unavailable to respond to the criticism, a spokesperson said.

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