WHEN: 10 am Tuesday 6 June 2023

WHERE: Fair Work Commission, 11 Exhibition St, Melbourne

WHAT: Today United Workers Union members in early education are making an application to commence Multi-Employer Bargaining in their sector. This is the first application of its kind in Australia, only made possible through new Multi-Employer Bargaining Laws which came into effect today.

WHO: Educators, United Workers Union Early Education Director Helen Gibbons and employer representatives will be available for comment.

Quotes attributable to Helen Gibbons, Early Education Director, United Workers Union:

“Educators can’t wait any longer. That’s why we’re here today, at the Fair Work Commission, to apply to commence bargaining with employers from across the sector on the very first day it’s legally possible.

“Educators welcomed the Federal Government’s Secure Jobs Better Pay bill last year, and it’s only right that educators are the first group of workers to use this new system.

“Educators have heard loud and clear from the Albanese Government that these new multi-employer bargaining laws were designed to get wages moving for workers in low-paid, undervalued sectors like theirs.

“These new laws not only allow for unions and employers from across the sector to come together around the common interest of getting wages moving, but for the first time, these laws can also require the federal government, as funder, to actively participate in those negotiations.

“Genuine tripartite negotiations between educators, employers and government is game-changing. Unions, employers and peaks in the sector have been working constructively and preparing for this moment for months.

“For years educators have been driven out of the sector they love by poverty-level wages. The current workforce crisis in early education is hurting educators, children and families.

“All across Australia parents and children are being turned away because there aren’t enough educators. Job vacancies have doubled in the sector. Without a solution, this will only get worse with 74% of educators indicating in the 2021 workforce census, an intention to leave within the next three years.

“Educators are taking action together, to speak with one voice for a better future.

“Educators have worked hard to hold the sector together and get ready to use these new laws on day one. These groundbreaking laws open up a new pathway out of the workforce crisis.

“Educators are calling on the Federal Government to do their bit and make a public commitment that they will come to the bargaining table prepared to fund an increase to educators’ wages.

“There’s no time to waste.”

Quotes attributable to Djarra Liotta-Ndiaye, Educator and UWU Delegate: 

“I’m proud to be a part of the first group of workers to use the new Multi-Employer Bargaining laws. Educators like me have been campaigning for liveable wages and quality early education for years. The sector has been grossly underpaid for many years and we’re now chronically understaffed.

“Today I have to rush back to work because there’s no one to cover me during the staffing crisis, but this moment is so important to us educators that I knew I needed to be here.

“Now for the first time, we have a real pathway to lasting change. As a small service, Multi-Employer Bargaining will finally give my centre a chance to be a part of bargaining for better wages and conditions. And we get to bargain directly with the government as the funder of the sector.

“The staffing crisis is real and affects everyone. The only way to change it is to raise educators’ wages and we’re long past ready for change. These negotiations with educators, employers and the government talking directly to each other gives me real hope.

“It’s time to pay educators what they’re worth and build the sustainable early education sector that children and families deserve.”


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