The Greens have lent their support to an interim wage supplement for early childhood education and care workers, as proposed by key ECEC bodies, centers and educators at several Senate inquiries.
Centers and educators have warned that there is a workforce crisis in early learning, and without swift action to tackle workforce attrition and vacancies, the sector would not be able to meet the expected increase in demand following the increase in the childcare subsidy that the government expects to come into effect in July 2023.
The Greens say the interim wage supplement could be funded largely from the $900 million difference between the initial cost of the government’s childcare affordability measures ($5.4 billion) and the final cost ($4.5 billion).
The stopgap measure would fund a pay rise before new bargaining and labor relations laws come into force and the implementation of a longer-term strategy to improve wages and conditions for workers in the EAJE.
Senator Mehreen Faruqi, Deputy Leader of the Greens and Spokesperson for Education, said:
“The treatment of early childhood educators is a national disgrace. ECEC staff continue to be paid well below what would be expected of those with their responsibilities and skills.
“The government should act immediately and provide an urgent and temporary wage supplement, while a long-term solution is developed for a permanent wage increase.
“Centres and educators are fundamentally united in their view that without urgent action to tackle wages, the affordability measures proposed in government legislation simply will not work.
“The Labor Bill fails to address the early childhood workforce crisis. Educators must receive better pay and conditions that reflect the skill and responsibility of the work they do.
“We shouldn’t have to wait for an investigation by the Productivity Commission to conclude that ECEC workers are underpaid and undervalued. We neither.