Confusion reigns over childcare deal

THE Gillard government’s decision to hand out a pay rise to childcare workers was nothing but a union membership grab, according to a local childcare centre operator.

Ekidna Kinda’s Loretta Walton said that was why none of her 32 staff bought into the original deal.

“The whole thing that Gillard did was just a union membership grab.

“It only took in about half the educators and only for two years,” Ms Walton said.

“We didn’t buy into it at all. We didn’t believe in it and now look at what’s happened.

“It was never going to work the way it was set up.

“Why make it part of an agreement with contracts, capped after two years? Why not just offer a normal pay rise.

“This was never a pay rise – it was disgusting.”

The Abbott government recently asked childcare providers to hand back the $62.5 million pledged by the former government to improve some wages in the poorly paid sector.

However the Assistant Minister for Education, Sussan Ley, said last week the government would instead use the $300 million allocated for professional training and development for childcare workers.

Labor’s $300 million was to boost the wages of 30,000 childcare workers in 1100 childcare centres, bolstering the $19-an-hour wages of certificate III childcare workers by $3 an hour, and the pay of early-childhood teachers by $6 an hour.

Ms Ley said under Labor’s plan only 30 per cent of childcare workers would receive a pay rise, while 70 per cent would receive nothing.

Among the childcare workers at Ekidna who looked into the deal was early childhood teacher Candy Franco, who saw it as a tokenistic gesture rather than a pay rise.

Ms Franco has seen the industry from all sides, as a mother, previously a day care centre owner and now as an early childhood teacher.

“Looking into it, it was very complicated,” she said.

“We talked about it at a Nowra Early Childhood meeting but it wasn’t just a case of here is some money.

“It wasn’t just a normal pay rise. It wasn’t going to everyone and there was talk of a two-year cap.

“I know the owners of some new centres that had recently started up in the area were hoping to get the money. 

“It would have helped them, but now the offer has been taken back that is a bit of a dampener for them.

“It is frustrating because the government wants us to gain these qualifications and calls us educators on one hand but says this is all you’re worth on the other hand.”

Early childhood teacher Karly Goddard was also disillusioned by the offer.  

“Most of anything they propose in our sector is very confusing and unclear,” she said.

“They’re always going to give us something but take something back.

“It’s very hard for workers and management staff to know what’s going on.

“Most of us feel underpaid for what we do, particularly in regard to the government requirements and documentation we have to provide in relation to child development.

“We could get an office job and answer a phone and get paid the same money.

“If we get into the school system as teachers and teachers aides the award is much more.

“For childcare workers it has to be about a love for the job, it’s not for the money,” she said.

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