INDEPENDENT NEWS

Early Childhood Teachers Hold Public Meetings Over Concern For Cuts

Published: Fri 3 May 2024 04:37 PM
Early childhood teachers are calling on their local MPs and communities to support them in their fight to protect their sector from potential pay cuts and further concerning deregulation.
The meetings, run by NZEI Te Riu Roa members across Aotearoa, are open to community for the first time and will address issues such as the importance of maintaining existing pay parity commitments for early childhood kaiako (teachers).
NZEI Te Riu Roa National Executive member and kindergarten teacher Virginia Oakly says the Government’s recent deregulation moves have left members anxious about what’s to come.
“There’s a high degree of uncertainty and a lot of fear among those working in early childhood right now.
“The Government has swiftly set up terms of reference for a regulatory review of the sector, yet without any legislative mandate for its Regulation Ministry having been formally agreed by Parliament.
"It’s all moving very quickly, and it’s clear from the Associate Minister of Education's statements in Parliament that the voices he is listening to are not those of the teaching workforce.
“However, we do know one thing the Government is clearly signaling for the early childhood sector – it seems intent on putting business rather than children and their teachers first,” she says.
Members have invited MPs to the meetings to learn about the issues teachers face and to seek their support for early childhood kaiako, kaimahi, and the tamariki they teach.
Oakly says the potential loss of hard-won rights for early childhood teachers, such as pay parity, would be “hugely detrimental” to the sector.
“We worked so hard to have those pay steps and to bring that in. It’s a positive change that plays an essential role in creating a sustainable workforce and attracting new teachers to the profession – particularly as we are in the middle of a chronic and serious staffing shortage.”
The meetings are also about reaffirming what matters to early childhood teachers, she says.
“We want our communities to come out knowing what our priorities are and to be ready to stand up with teachers for the rights of our tamariki mokopuna to high-quality early childhood education, led by qualified teachers, with safe teacher-to-child ratios.”
NZEI Te Riu Roa early childhood public union meetings run from Monday 6 May until Friday 24 May.

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