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News release: Fight for women’s rights goes to court

The fight for fairness for workers in a female dominated profession begins at the Fair Work Commission tomorrow.

The Independent Education Union of Australia (IEUA) is asking the Fair Work Commission to remedy wages for early childhood teachers.

Despite having the same degree as school teachers, first year preschool teachers earn on average $15,000 less per annum than primary teachers. After nine years the difference can be around $32,000 per annum.

The union’s case calls for the Commission to compare pay rates for early childhood teachers with male primary teachers and male engineers.

Normanhurst preschool teacher Ariane Simon gave up an opportunity to become a Royal Australian Air Force officer to dedicate 40 years of her life to early childhood teaching.

“I discovered my passion. I realised this was where I was meant to be, working with young children and families. But imagine how much better off I would be now if I had gone into the Air Force, in terms of superannuation, health care, my financial position, everything,” Simon said.

Sydney teacher Emma Cullen, who has a Masters in Educational Leadership, works in long day care.

Long day care teachers often work 38 hours a week and get four weeks annual leave, not school holidays. 

 “Early childhood teachers are regarded as nice ladies who look after children. These misunderstandings flow on to the respect we receive as well as the pay. We are not babysitters,” Cullen said.

Albury preschool teacher Gabrielle Connell has been in the profession for 20 years.

“Early childhood teachers are passionate about working with young children, so they often have no choice but to forego the extra $20,000 a year or more in salary they could get in a school. But there is a growing problem attracting and retaining teachers to the early childhood sector, especially in regional and rural areas.  It’s becoming hard for services to find teachers.

“Good quality early childhood teachers have been proven to improve a person’s chances of success in life, right through to adulthood.”

ACTU Secretary Sally McManus is backing the IEUA case. She has called on the Fair Work Commission to grant the IEUA claim for substantial pay rises for early childhood teachers.

“This case will test whether the equal remuneration principle under the Fair Work Act can help women who are paid less because of the feminised nature of their work,” McManus said.

IEUA Assistant Secretary Carol Matthews said: “Despite the significant public funding of the sector, some employers continue to pay their female early childhood teachers less than a fair wage in comparison with the pay earned by male professionals”.

Click here to download the full news release


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