3000 child care staff to walk off the job in fight for pay
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- 3000 childcare workers will walk off the job at 3pm this Thursday.
- If your centre is affected, you should have been notified by now
- United Voice has not released a list of affected centres. If concerned, call them directly.
- The "walk off" is part of a fight over pay and conditions.
It is affecting centres in all states.
AUSTRALIA'S largest childcare centres strike will force thousands of parents across the country to arrange pick-up of their kids in the middle of the afternoon.
Unions leaders claim 3000 childcare staff will walk off the job at 3.20pm on Thursday.
It is the time of the week they claim childcare staff effectively start working for free when their pay packet is compared to the average Australian salary.
Childcare union United Voice hopes the unprecedented industrial action will force the federal government to bankroll a 35 per cent pay increase, possibly by increasing subsidies to parents.
It expects 10,000 families to be affected by the strike.
A childcare worker with the bare minimum of 18 months training earns $42,218, just $3 an hour more than the minimum wage.
Would you pay more so childcare workers get better pay?
This poll ended on 11 September 2017.
Yes - we need them!
No, childcare is already too expensive.
The government should be doing more to fill the gap between their wages and affordability for parents.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
Four years of full time study at a cost of close to $30,000 for a Bachelor of Early Childhood Education is rewarded with $52,691 a year - $27,864 less than the average Australian salary.
The union says pay rates have not kept up with increased training and qualifications demands on childcare workers and it is no coincidence 97 per cent of childcare staff are women.
Randwick Occasional Care For Kids community day care director Sandra Bell is embarrassed to pay her staff the award wage but claimed she could not increase rates parents pay as parents were already at breaking point, even with the annual rebate of $7613 per child.
"We've already got some parents who cut back one day a week because they can't afford it," Ms Bell said.
"Educating kids for eight hours a day as well as tending to their eating, sleeping and nappy needs is very demanding work and $21 an hour is ridiculous."
The veteran educator of 37 years can remember when childcare workers only needed a Working With Children check and claimed pay hasn't kept pace with increased training expectations.
An educator at the centre, Lauren Fletcher, who has three children and two mortgages, credits her husband's full-time job for keeping her young family above water.
"Early learning teaches vital building blocks - social skills, motor skills and imagination."
"This job is more than supervising children; it's about preparing them for school and life, which is not valued highly enough," Mrs Fletcher said.
"If I was a single mother, I wouldn't be able to make ends meet."
Susan Laughton, whose sons Henry, 4, and Oscar, 2, attend the Randwick daycare, was in lock-step with the cash-strapped staff.
Ms Laughton sees early learning as the key to unlocking her children's potential, valuing its importance greater than primary schooling.
"Early learning teaches vital building blocks - social skills, motor skills and imagination," she said.
According to a spokesman for Minister for Employment Michaelia Cash, childcare worker pay is a matter for the national workplace relations tribunal and child care centres.
"The government could solve this tomorrow if they wanted to".
"It is disappointing, yet unsurprising, that the union is seeking to inconvenience working Australians through industrial action," the spokesman said.
"The people who will be hurt most by this action are working women who simply cannot afford the extra pressure and inconvenience that the union is trying to inflict on them."
Childcare union United Voice assistant national secretary Helen Gibbons accused the government of passing the buck, telling the Sunday Telegraph the union had been petitioning the Fair Work Commission for four years to no avail and the "government could solve this tomorrow if they wanted to".
Up to 1000 workers walked off the job on International Women's Day in March, forcing hundreds of children home early.
The union has vowed to keep escalating the fight until they win better pay.
Parents and carers affected by the walk-off have been told of the closures.