You know that last pay rise you received? Well, what would you say to your boss if they asked you to pay it back now – just two and half weeks before Christmas?
Yeah. That. Not sure we could print our reaction here without disappointing our parents.
But that’s the situation facing the staff of 1100 childcare centres around Australia today.
Back in May, the Gillard Govenement awarded workers with a Certificate 111 qualification, an extra $3 dollars an hour, and those with a teaching qualification, an extra $6 an hour.
Today the Abbott Government has announced that they want workers to pay that money back.
The money was provided via a $300 million fund, set up for the next two years. During which time, the Fair Work Commission would undertake a study to determine whether the rates of pay in the sector were too low.
After a long and successful campaign, many in the sector were fearful that an Abbott Government would overturn this decision and take the funds as savings. These fears seemed unfounded when it was promised that all existing commitments would be guaranteed by a newly elected Prime Minister and his team.
But it wasn’t to be. A decision to re-direct the funds into professional development was announced.
This shows a complete lack of understanding of the current nature of the child care sector. One that has undergone an unprecedented period of professionalisation in the last six years.
As if that’s not bad enough. The Government decided to ask staff to pay back the money already received under the existing agreement.
Incredible…Who the hell is running this show? Can you imagine a decision like that, being taken in a commercial business? You’d be laughed at, and rightly so.
It’s devastating that early childhood education and care has become a political battleground. Governments of all persuasions see this as a “hot” button issue. They devise policy, deliver rebates and develop guidelines. Because they want you to vote for them.
And they succeed, because they play on the emotion of the issue.
Think about it, each morning, you drop off your most precious possession to a child care centre. The staff are expected to care for, educate and comfort your child. A role, almost impossible to put a price on.
For too long poor rates of pay have been justified because the workforce is made up predominately of women. These women are often mothers themselves and see the work they do as a privilege. A fact used to exploit the workforce for far too long.
Opponents to a pay rise for sector, think nothing of paying these people less than they would pay a cleaner.
Today’s call for childcare workers to pay back a much deserved pay rise, is one of the most audacious things we have ever seen a Government do. It’s an epic case of giving a gift… and then asking for it right back.
It makes a mockery of the work that these professionals do on a daily basis. The sector has undergone major improvements in recent times and these achievements should be applauded.
The major focus, has been to make sure that no matter where you live, your child, has access to good quality early childhood education and care.
The reason? All the available evidence, confirms that children between the ages of 0-5, benefit most from access to a program of early childhood education and care.
Rest assured we are not talking about a flashcard program for the gifted and talented, or compulsory violin lessons. These programs are aimed at better preparing kids before they enter the classroom. They teach a child to hold a pair of scissors, sit on the ground to listen to a story or to follow the direction of a “teacher”.
But for it to work, every child needs to be able to access the service. And a big part of making this happen, is a recognition of the professional nature of staff. They do a very important job.
Pay is one of the biggest barriers to attracting and retaining staff. Centres need to be able to train, attract and retain staff in the sector to deliver these programs.
It’s astonishing that we are still debating whether or not, those that educate and care for our children need current, relevant qualifications and pay that reflects the service they provide.
A country as lucky as we are, needs to make sure that future generations, have the ability to benefit from the opportunities we create for them today. Not allow them to be used as a political football, to win over a much desired demographic of the Australian population. Women.
Do you think the staff that care for your child are paid appropriately? Share this post so show your support for workers that deserve a much needed pay rise.