Thousands of early childhood educators walked off the job on 7 September as part of their campaign for equal pay. “Equally qualified industries in a male-dominated field get paid 30 percent more than we do”, one of the striking workers explained to Red Flag. “So we need to be paid more. We lose educators daily to other fields because we're underpaid.”
Women in Australia earn, on average, about 15 per cent less than men. Industries that are dominated by women tend to be paid less for comparable work with the same qualifications. The long day care workforce is 97 percent female, and their pay reflects that.
The workers do not want families to have to pay more so they can get a living wage. “We can’t expect families to fund this; we just need the government to step up and fund this pay rise”, one worker said. Families with children in day care already spend a huge amount. Fees of more than $100 per day are normal around the country.
But it’s not just about the money, Miranda, an early childhood educator, said. “It’s about equal rights. I mean, no equal rights is like a day without sunshine, and we’ve basically brought some sunshine into this day by gathering. It’s just beautiful. All power. It’s good we’re making noise.”