'We're Not Babysitters': Childcare Workers Demand Better Pay

Early childcare workers turning to primary teaching for better pay and hours.

After more than 30 years as an early childhood teacher Judy Colledge admits it’s a passion for the job and her students that keeps her in the industry, not the pay.

In fact, her salary is the one thing that has led her to contemplate throwing in her three decade career.

She was one of two dozen teachers who today rallied out the front of the Fair Work Commission in Sydney, as the Independent Education Union of Australia launched its case for increased wages.

At the centre of its claim is that early childhood teachers are paid on average $15,000 per annum less than primary school teachers - despite requiring the same accreditation and university qualifications. After nearly a decade in the industry, the disparity can blow out to $30,000 per annum.

It’s an issue that’s leading the best candidates away from a future in early childhood according to Judy.

Graduates can be paid more in schools and on average work shorter hours. There’s also more time off. Long day care teachers receive four weeks annual leave and don’t have school holidays.

The Union claims the disparity has been allowed to exist because the sector is female dominated.

Its claim calls for the Fair Work Commission to consider comparisons with the pay rates of male primary teachers and male engineers. If successful, the union estimates any impact to parents would be minimal, only a couple of percentage points increase in fees.

“We’re not babysitters”, Judy said, echoing a complaint several teachers expressed to TEN Eyewitness News.

There is extensive evidence early childhood teachers play an important role in identifying potential developmental issues. Yet these professionals believe their role, training and expertise are far from recognised and understood by many parents and importantly by government.

The Fair Work Commission will be hearing evidence for approximately one month.