Childcare workers across Australia will go on strike on September the 7th, taking the action against the poor pay and conditions the sector continues to face.
The crisis facing the sector is leading to early childhood educators leaving in unprecedented droves. Last year, an industry survey found that 37 percent of childcare workers said they intended to leave their jobs within a year.
On Wednesday, United Workers’ Union delegates and Early childhood education and care (ECEC) union members voted to take historic action, calling on supporters to take national strike action.
“Educators everywhere are going to take national action, shut down the early learning sector and take to the streets,” a United Workers Union (UWU) statement read.
The strike aims to highlight the urgent need to increase funding ensuring qualified staff may earn the same wages as primary school teachers.
Helen Gibbons, UWU’s Director of Early Education believes “educators are sick of being stuck”.
“After nearly a decade of inaction, the new Federal Government needs to commit to an urgent plan to fix the early education sector,” she said. “The only way out of the crisis in early learning is real reform that respects educators.”
“Yesterday’s meeting was just the start,” Gibbons said. “Educators are talking to each other all over the country and building a nationwide action.”
“Educators can only make like $24 an hour and they have a qualification and all that experience and tremendous responsibility. It’s a really intense, difficult job. It’s a great job and we know the work they’re doing is really important, but they don’t feel cared for.”
Gibbons outlined the Union’s position and called on the Federal Government to “urgently outline a plan and timeline to deliver on three key priorities.”
They including: giving educators a reason to stay and paying them what we are worth, valuing early learning as part of the education system, and putting children before profit.
According to research conducted by UWU, early childhood educators were leaving the sector in record numbers each week. They were experiencing burn-out, excess workload and low pay, causing centres to restrict their enrolments, minimise class numbers and cancel staff leave.
The planned strike on 7 September coincides with Early Childhood Educators Day, a day created by the Australian Childcare Alliance to champion the work of Australia’s educators in early learning services.
Marches will take place across the country at various locations, including outside Parliament House.