There is no need to work for a bad employer or for low wages in these times of a teacher shortage and a shortage of labour across many sectors in the NZ economy.
“If you are not being paid what you deserve – then walk away," says Dr Sarah Alexander of ChildForum.
“If you are being bullied or your workplace is causing you to experience mental health or physical injuries – walk away.
“To make it better for yourself you must be prepared to walk away. If you rely on the government or the union to change it for you then you are relying on the politics of the moment.
“Your boss might say ‘times are tough - I can’t pay you more’. But an employer’s job is to suppress wage expectations.”
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Dr Alexander suggests that walking away to look for something better will be hard for any teacher to do “because we are kind and caring people.”
But she argues that employers can take advantage of this kindness and willingness to sacrifice income.
“As professionals it is not for us to sacrifice our income for the benefit of parents or the profits of employers. The work of an early childhood teacher is not an extension of mothering. It is professional work.”
An early childhood teacher shortage is now emerging as a consequence of several years of non-response by the Government and employer groups to bullying, stress, work-load and injury concerns that ChildForum has uncovered in teacher surveys. The actions of some employers in their treatment of staff have negatively impacted on the reputation of the early childhood sector as a desirable sector to work in.
Many employers, including good employers, are getting few if any suitable applicants for advertised positions. They are beginning to realise the importance of holding onto their current teaching staff or risk losing staff to their competition.
The labour shortage in the NZ economy adds strength to the bargaining power of early childhood teachers since there are many higher paying jobs in other sectors that a teacher could easily move into.
Futher reading: teacher pay rates; options for employers to reduce staffing problems;