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Comments attributable to Carolyn Smith, Early Education Director, United Workers Union.

“The Federal Labor Government commitment to fund a significant wage rise for early childhood educators is welcome, and desperately needed to address the continuing workforce crisis in the sector.

“A wage increase is an absolute necessity to recognise the historical undervaluation of early educators, in a sector where 97 per cent of workers are women.

“Early educators have been negotiating for a real wage rise since last year in Australia’s first supported multi-employer agreement.

“The wage rise commitment from the Federal Government comes as early educators continue to pursue their claim for a 25% wage rise in the bargaining.

“The commitment also comes as unions push for wage rises through gender-based considerations of the Fair Work Commission in the annual award wage determination.

“Whatever way it happens, a wage rise needs to happen soon – it’s high time that early childhood educators are recognised for their important work giving Australia’s next generation their best start in life.

“Too frequently, early educators are being forced to make the hard choice between the job they are so dedicated to, or leaving to find a job that can pay their bills.

“The workforce crisis is hitting families and children across Australia.

“Rooms are being closed regularly so families are unable to drop their kids off in the mornings; kids are not seeing familiar faces because of the massive turnover in early educators.

“Early educators are barely able to survive on the wages they are paid amid soaring cost-of-living increases. As a result staff are leaving in droves and workloads for those who remain are unacceptably high.

“More broadly, we welcome the Federal Labor Government’s commitment to fund aged care pay rises determined through the union-led work-value case – where, again, the workforce is almost 90 per cent female.

“The Federal Labor Government’s commitment to address long standing inequity in feminised industries is a welcome change from the policy stasis of the Coalition years, and a welcome recognition of the importance of the care sector to Australia.” 


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