By Sarah Alexander
NZEI has told the nation that it has a plan to deliver an immediate 11% pay increase to all ECE teachers, using the Early Childhood Education Collective Agreement of Aotearoa New Zealand (ECECA).
But the old adage 'if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is’ seems to apply here, as a closer look reveals. The ECECA expired last month and it covered teachers in only 102 early childhood services/ organisations (see the list below).
NZEI is asking teachers who are not members and not included in the ECECA to vote on what it calls the “pay jolt” and add their private contact details into its marketing data base. The cynic would say that NZEI is doing this to generate membership subscriptions. Maybe the cynic would be right?
Every early childhood centre in the country cannot be made to agree to be party to the ECECA. And, anyway that would leave all the centres that have withdrawn from the ECECA over recent years and many teachers across the country resenting losing some of the terms and conditions that they have negotiated to suit their own personal circumstances.
NZEI cannot make the Ministry of Education use the ECEA in deciding on the rates of pay it requires employers to pay all qualified and certificated teachers in return for funding for said teachers. The ministry may choose not to use the ECEA - there is nothing that binds it to using it.
NZEI also claims that the ECECA sets the standard in teacher pay - it does not. The Kindergarten Teachers Head Teachers and Senior Teachers’ Collective Agreement, 2019 – 2022 (KTCA) sets the standard - no teacher in early childhood education should be paid less than teachers working in kindergartens and schools. There is nothing preventing the ministry from basing its salary attestation on the steps and scales of the KTCA.
NZEI is counting on the 102 services currently party to the ECECA agreeing to 11% and not bargaining them down or walking away from the ECECA. It will also need teachers in these services who are members to be satisfied not to have pay parity with kindergarten and primary peers for at least another couple of years or longer.
What will the 16 – 17,000 non-kindergarten ECE teachers who are not in the ECECA gain?
An 11% pay increase would not be passed on to the vast majority of teachers, only those within the 102 services signed up to the ECECA. Should the Ministry of Education also increase the salary attestation rates by 11% some time in the future, then teachers whose employer pays them at the minimum attestation rate levels of $21.87 an hour (3 yr degree or diploma) and $22.51 an hour (4 yr degree) would get an increase to $24.27 and $24.99 an hour, respectively.
Teachers who are currently earning more than this would not have the 11% that NZEI is talking about applied.
NZEI states that a pay jolt would be “immediate”, but the Ministry of Education does not immediately reset its salary attestation rates in accordance with the ECECA. For example, in the ECEA 2018-2019 the Q3+ Entry rate effect from 1 July 2017 was increased from $22.29 to $22.51 effective from 1 March 2019. The Ministry of Education attestation rate remained at $22.29 and did not change to $22.51 until 1 August 2019. With ECE pay and funding, history shows that there is no such thing as ‘immediate'.
A problem is that wages are already very low for teachers working in non-kindergarten ECE services. From 1 April 2020, the minimum adult wage in NZ will have risen by 20% since 2017 (it was $15.75 in 2017 and it will rise to $18.90).
But the attestation rate for a teacher with a 4 year degree will have risen by only a total of 12.1% since 2017, effectively edging closer to the minimum adult wage in NZ (note that the attestation rate was $22.29 an hour in 2017 and if the ministry decides to increase attestation by NZEI's 11% it would be $24.99).
Comments posted by teachers on the petition for pay parity suggest many are fed up with substantially lower wages than teachers who work in kindergartens and schools so an 11% increase will not cut the mustard. They see unskilled workers in other industries earning comparable to what they earn despite holding a degree-level qualification and meeting professional requirements for certification.
So, by choosing to press for an ill-defined 11% ‘jolt’ who is NZEI really working for?
Is NZEI working for teachers and the interests of the early childhood sector by pressing for all qualified ECE teachers to be paid as much as kindergarten teachers? It doesn’t seem so. However, the Labour-led coalition Government and Education Minister Chris Hipkins will be relieved.
Minister Hipkins will now know that there will be no demand from NZEI for the government to fund pay parity for teachers in all ECE services, at least not while he is Minister of Education.
Go to the Petition for ECE Teacher Pay Parity
- This petition is for funded pay parity - it calls on the government to require the Minstry of Education to lift salary attestation rates to reflect the kindergarten teachers scales and rates.
Early Childhood Services Party to the ECE Collective Agreement (2018 – expired on 16-09-2019)
- Adelaide Early Childcare Centre
- Andersons Bay Community Kindergarten
- Aro Valley preschool
- Arrowtown Early Learning Centre (Durham
- Avonside Early Childhood Centre
- Awapuni Under Fives Community Preschool
- Big Steps Educare Incorporated
- Bishopdale Community Preschool
- Bowen Early Childhood Education Centre
- Box Hill Kids Inc.
- Bridge Street Early Learning Centre Inc.
- Brooklyn Early Childhood Centre Inc.
- Cambridge Road Community Kindergarten
- Capital Kids Co-Operative Childcare Centre
- City Kids Childcare Centre Inc.
- Collectively Kids Ltd
- Coromandel Community Preschool Inc.
- Cotswold Preschool & Nursery Assn
- Cromwell Early Learning Centre
- Dunedin Community Child Care Assn: Pioneers Elm Row centre, Pioneers Home Central centre, Pioneers Koputai centre, Pioneers Nursery centre, Pioneers Russell Street centre
- Dunedin Hospital ECC Inc: Dunedin Hospital Early Childhood Centre, Wakari Hospital Early Childhood Centre
- E Tipu E Rea Early Learning Centre
- East Coast Bays Community Creche Inc.
- Educational Child Care Centre Inc
- EIT Ōtātara Children's Centre
- Family Link Childcare
- Finlayson Park Childcare Centre
- First Years Pre-School Inc
- Geraldine Pre-School Inc
- Gisborne Hospital Child Care and Education Centre Inc
- Gisborne Montessori Preschool Inc
- Glenavon Early Childhood Centre Inc
- Glenfield Community Centre Inc.
- Golden Kids Inc
- Gracefield Early Childhood Centre Inc.
- Hadlow Preschool
- Healthkids Preschool Inc
- Highbury House Early Learning Centre
- Hill Street Early Childhood Centre Inc
- Islington Early Childhood Centre Inc
- Kadimah Preschool
- Karanga Mai Early Learning Centre
- Karori Childcare Centre Inc
- Karori Kids
- Kelston Early Childhood Centre
- Kids’ Environment Inc
- Kidzone Public Servants Newtown Childcare
- Kilbirnie Early Learners In
- Kopuwai Early Learning Centre
- Lincoln University Childcare and Preschool
- Little Pipis Childcare Inc
- Lower Hutt Public Service Childcare Centre
- Lynfield College Community Childcare Centre Inc
- Manaaki Tamariki Childcare and Education Centre
- Marian Early Childhood Centre
- Marlborough St Childcare Centre
- Marton Junction Community Pre-school
- Methven Pre-school Learning & Child Care Centre
- Moriah Kindergarten Inc
- Motueka Early Learning Centre Inc
- New Brighton Community Preschool and Nursery Inc
- Newlands Childcare Inc
- Newtown Early Learning Centre Inc
- Nga Tamariki Childcare Centre Inc
- Northcote Point Community Creche Inc
- Northland Community Pre-School Inc
- Okaiawa Preschool at Matapu Inc
- Onewhero Early Childhood Centre Inc
- Otago Polytechnic Polykids (Otago Polytechnic Childcare)
- OUCA College Centre – Ropu Tiaki Tamaiti
- Pelorus Community Preschool Inc
- Picton Community Early Learning Centre
- Pipitea Childcare Centre
- Playhouse Inc
- Poly-High Community Childcare Centre Inc
- Queens High Preschool
- Rangi Ruru Pre-School
- Rangiora High School Nursery
- Red Hills Community Kindergarten Inc
- Rotorua Girls' High School Childcare Centre
- Rutherford Preschool Inc
- Rutherford Street Kindergarten Inc
- Southern Cross Pre School
- St Albans Community Preschool
- St Andrews Christian Pre-School
- St Mary's Preschool Inc
- Stratford Community Child Care Centre Inc
- Arrowtown Preschool comprised of: Early Learning Centre (Durham Street) and Arrowtown Pre-School (Cotter Ave)
- Sydenham Community Pre-School Inc
- Te Atawhai Early Learning Centre
- Te Kainganui Early Education Centre Inc
- Te Kohanga Reo o Mana Tamariki
- Te Kopae Reo o Tupoho Inc
- Te Reanga Childcare
- The Carol White Family Centre Inc
- Tokoroa Child Care Centre Inc
- Victoria Early Learning Centre Inc
- Wadestown Community Creche Inc
- Waiheke Community Childcare Centre Inc
- Waimate Childcare Centre Inc
- Wellington City Rudolf Steiner Kindergarten
- Whangarei Child Care Centre Inc