The union for ECE teachers, NZEI Te Riu Roa, is welcoming the Education and Workforce Select Committee’s recommendation that Parliament approve legislative changes enabling the next steps toward pay parity for early childhood teachers.
The Bill amending the Education and Training Act 2020 to clarify the Education Minister’s powers to set conditions for funding to include employment relations, such as implementing steps towards pay parity, was supported by Labour and Green members of the Select Committee.
The Bill sets the ground for the Government to fulfil its Budget 2021 decision to increase funding by $170m to employers who opt in to higher funding levels and agree to pay their teachers at least parity with the first six steps of the kindergarten teachers’ collective agreement.
NZEI Te Riu Roa ECE leader Virginia Oakly is calling on the National Party, which did not support the Bill, to clarify that it supports pay parity for ECE teachers.
“Right now, the majority of ECE teachers are paid significantly less than their peers in kindergartens and schools, despite having the same experience, responsibilities and qualifications. That’s not only unfair, it’s led to a significant teacher shortage in ECE that is impacting our tamariki. It’s time for the National Party to come out and clearly support pay parity for ECE.
“Currently teacher pay varies wildly across the ECE sector, while in schools, there’s a clear, transparent pay scale that means teachers with the same experience, responsibilities, and qualifications receive the same pay and advance up the pay scale every year. Teachers’ submissions on this Bill made it clear that they want the same fairness in ECE. The proposed Bill makes that possible for many teachers.
“For true pay parity to be implemented and sustained, ECE teachers need to be able to start – as kindergarten and school teachers do – on pay steps that reflect their qualifications and experience, and then progressively advance through the steps annually. If passed, this Bill will explicitly confirm the Minister’s ability to ensure employers implement parity properly and make it much more likely that teachers are paid accurately and receive the same pay they would receive if they were working in these other settings,” Oakly says.
“While this Bill is a good step in the right direction, we welcome the Green Party’s advocacy for the Bill to go further towards implementing full pay parity and more public provision of ECE. It’s critical that the Government now urgently move on its commitment to fix the broken funding system in ECE and we look forward to teachers having a voice in the design of a new one that delivers quality and fair pay to the sector.”