Contributed from Victoria
Workers at major child care centres will walk off the job across Australia on Thursday, in what is shaping up to be the biggest strike in the industry’s history, according to the union covering childcare workers, United Voice.
About 10,000 families will have to make alternative arrangements for their children, as they are inevitably caught up in the dissatisfaction in an industry that is one of the lowest paying industries. Low pay come with an expectation of a high level of skill and commitment.
The strikers argue that they are going out at 3.20 pm on Thursday, because that is the time in the week that they effectively begin to work for free.
United voice has publicly stated that its members are “Frustrated that the government is continually failing to address the equal pay issue, thousands of early childhood educators are escalating their action. In an unprecedented move, it will be the second walk off this year in their fight for professional pay”.
The assistant federal secretary of the union says about child care workers: “They are a highly-educated, skilled workforce but only earn around $21 an hour. As long as the government continues to ignore them and pass the buck on funding equal pay, from here on in they will continue to escalate their action”.
A part of the problem is that this is a largely female workforce in a caring industry, where those working in it have long been committed to the welfare of those put in their charge. The high level of commitment has been used against them.
The difference now is that they are much less prepared to be used in this way. Commitment to their charges remains as strong as it ever was. But they are no longer prepared to be used as a source of cheap labour and believe they have a right to be respected and recognised for as professionals performing essential work