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Early Childhood Support Workers Seek Equal Pay



Early childhood support worker Kathy Power is one of three women seeking to take a case to mediation with the government for equal pay for support workers in early childhood services and schools.


Since Kristine Bartlett’s historic pay parity case lead to the government agreeing to spend more than $2 billion to raise the pay of rest home carers, other groups are seeking pay rises where their work is similarly undervalued.


The rest home agreement with the union E Tu provides for rest home workers to get up to $23.50 from July this year while education support workers currently get between $16 and $19 an hour.


The support workers had already taken a case under previous legislation, and the research had been done to prove their case, but the government changed and the relevant law was repealed.


The government has now agreed guidelines for negotiation for equal pay in cases like this. 


Kathy Power told Fairfax news that valuing the workers also values the children they work with. “What we do actually has a huge impact on children and their families.”


Kathy has been a support worker since 1996 and is at the top of the scale. She loves the work despite the pay. Kathy says she feels valued by the families she works with and the centres, but not so valued by the Ministry of Education.


She also says the hours of work fluctuate and it is never full time. It is difficult for support workers to calculate what their annual income will be. 


NZEI Te Riu Roa says after the support workers, teacher aides will seek mediation on their pay, and then early childhood teachers will be next.


Many private sector early childhood teachers are also questioning why, if rest home carers are to get up to $23.50 per hour, they are paid less than this despite having a degree and going through a two year registration process and ongoing professional learning.













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