Tukunga pāpāho

Scrapping pay parity is not the solution to the ECE sector crisis

15 Pou 2024

NZEI Te Riu Roa members working in early childhood education (ECE) say the Government should come clean on whether it is going to scrap pay parity for early childhood teachers.

Pay parity means the pay rates of ECE qualified kaiako (teachers) are determined by a fair and transparent pay scale that recognises their education and experience, and aligns their pay with teachers with the same qualifications and responsibilities working in kindergartens and schools.

NZEI Te Riu Roa member and ECE centre manager Megan White says pay parity levels the playing field for teachers, regardless of the age level of the tamariki they teach, as well as ensuring public money goes directly to teachers in a way that is transparent and fair.

“Pay parity is the best way of making sure our teachers in the ECE workforce are recognised and fairly remunerated for their experience and expertise in line with all other teachers in Aotearoa. It also means there is accountability for the billions of dollars of public funding that goes into a sector that is mostly populated by private, for-profit ECE services.”

White says pay parity for ECE teachers, introduced in 2020, was intended to address a major driver of the early childhood teacher shortage: low pay.

“Getting rid of pay parity in the ECE sector will just take us backwards. It could lead to pay freezes or cuts for ECE teachers, which will only worsen the current staffing shortage and likely increase the number of those leaving the sector for better pay and conditions elsewhere.

“That the Government perceives pay parity as an ‘inflexible’ regulatory burden is a huge concern. We believe that removing pay parity could result in ECE providers paying teachers less, leading to a ‘race to the bottom’ in terms of teacher pay and conditions while bumping up private centre profits. There is no doubt that this will come at the expense of tamariki’s education and teachers’ safety and wellbeing.

“Quality early learning for our tamariki depends on their teachers having good working conditions – decent pay, safe and workable teacher: child ratios, having enough staff, and more. Pay parity is an absolutely essential part of fixing everything that’s falling apart in our sector."