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NZEI Misleading on Delivering 11% Pay Increase

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NZEI Promises on Pay Misleading.
Opinion Article.
By Sarah Alexander.
October, 6. 2019.

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  And, anyway that would leave all the centres that have withdrawn from the ECECA over recent years and many teachers across the country resenting losing some of the terms and conditions that they have negotiated to suit their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 NZEI is diverting attention away from pay parity.    

Early Childhood Services Party to the ECE Collective Agreement (2018 – expired on 16-09-2019)

  1. Adelaide Early Childcare Centre
  2. Andersons Bay Community Kindergarten
  3. Aro Valley preschool
  4. Arrowtown Early Learning Centre (Durham
  5. Avonside Early Childhood Centre
  6. Awapuni Under Fives Community Preschool
  7. Big Steps Educare Incorporated
  8. Bishopdale Community Preschool
  9. Bowen Early Childhood Education Centre
  10. Box Hill Kids Inc.
  11. Bridge Street Early Learning Centre Inc.
  12. Brooklyn Early Childhood Centre Inc.
  13. Cambridge Road Community Kindergarten
  14. Capital Kids Co-Operative Childcare Centre
  15. City Kids Childcare Centre Inc.
  16. Collectively Kids Ltd
  17. Coromandel Community Preschool Inc.
  18. Cotswold Preschool & Nursery Assn
  19. Cromwell Early Learning Centre
  20. Dunedin Community Child Care Assn: Pioneers Elm Row centre, Pioneers Home Central centre, Pioneers Koputai centre, Pioneers Nursery centre, Pioneers Russell Street centre
  21. Dunedin Hospital ECC Inc: Dunedin Hospital Early Childhood Centre, Wakari Hospital Early Childhood Centre
  22. E Tipu E Rea Early Learning Centre
  23. East Coast Bays Community Creche Inc.
  24. Educational Child Care Centre Inc
  25. EIT Ōtātara Children’s Centre
  26. Family Link Childcare
  27. Finlayson Park Childcare Centre
  28. First Years Pre-School Inc
  29. Geraldine Pre-School Inc
  30. Gisborne Hospital Child Care and Education Centre Inc
  31. Gisborne Montessori Preschool Inc
  32. Glenavon Early Childhood Centre Inc
  33. Glenfield Community Centre Inc.
  34. Golden Kids Inc
  35. Gracefield Early Childhood Centre Inc.
  36. Hadlow Preschool
  37. Healthkids Preschool Inc
  38. Highbury House Early Learning Centre
  39. Hill Street Early Childhood Centre Inc
  40. Islington Early Childhood Centre Inc
  41. Kadimah Preschool
  42. Karanga Mai Early Learning Centre
  43. Karori Childcare Centre Inc
  44. Karori Kids
  45. Kelston Early Childhood Centre
  46. Kids’ Environment Inc
  47. Kidzone Public Servants Newtown Childcare
  48. Kilbirnie Early Learners In
  49. Kopuwai Early Learning Centre
  50. Lincoln University Childcare and Preschool
  51. Little Pipis Childcare Inc
  52. Lower Hutt Public Service Childcare Centre
  53. Lynfield College Community Childcare Centre Inc
  54. Manaaki Tamariki Childcare and Education Centre
  55. Marian Early Childhood Centre
  56. Marlborough St Childcare Centre
  57. Marton Junction Community Pre-school
  58. Methven Pre-school Learning & Child Care Centre
  59. Moriah Kindergarten Inc
  60. Motueka Early Learning Centre Inc
  61. New Brighton Community Preschool and Nursery Inc
  62. Newlands Childcare Inc
  63. Newtown Early Learning Centre Inc
  64. Nga Tamariki Childcare Centre Inc
  65. Northcote Point Community Creche Inc
  66. Northland Community Pre-School Inc
  67. Okaiawa Preschool at Matapu Inc
  68. Onewhero Early Childhood Centre Inc
  69. Otago Polytechnic Polykids (Otago Polytechnic Childcare)
  70. OUCA College Centre – Ropu Tiaki Tamaiti
  71. Pelorus Community Preschool Inc
  72. Picton Community Early Learning Centre
  73. Pipitea Childcare Centre
  74. Playhouse Inc
  75. Poly-High Community Childcare Centre Inc
  76. Queens High Preschool
  77. Rangi Ruru Pre-School
  78. Rangiora High School Nursery
  79. Red Hills Community Kindergarten Inc
  80. Rotorua Girls’ High School Childcare Centre
  81. Rutherford Preschool Inc
  82. Rutherford Street Kindergarten Inc
  83. Southern Cross Pre School
  84. St Albans Community Preschool
  85. St Andrews Christian Pre-School
  86. St Mary’s Preschool Inc
  87. Stratford Community Child Care Centre Inc
  88. Arrowtown Preschool comprised of: Early Learning Centre (Durham Street) and Arrowtown Pre-School (Cotter Ave)
  89. Sydenham Community Pre-School Inc
  90. Te Atawhai Early Learning Centre
  91. Te Kainganui Early Education Centre Inc
  92. Te Kohanga Reo o Mana Tamariki
  93. Te Kopae Reo o Tupoho Inc
  94. Te Reanga Childcare
  95. The Carol White Family Centre Inc
  96. Tokoroa Child Care Centre Inc
  97. Victoria Early Learning Centre Inc
  98. Wadestown Community Creche Inc
  99. Waiheke Community Childcare Centre Inc
  100. Waimate Childcare Centre Inc
  101. Wellington City Rudolf Steiner Kindergarten
  102. Whangarei Child Care Centre Inc

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