Thousands of childcare workers walked out across the country on September 7 as part of their campaign for better pay and conditions.
“Give us a reason to stay: It’s time for better pay”, “I can't pay my bills with cupcakes”, “No more band aids”, “Children over profits” and “Where is all the money going?” were some of the placards in Sydney.
Some 500 people rallied in Martin Place to hear from speakers before marching through the city to the federal government building.
Childcare workers, a parent and Australian Council of Trade Union secretary Sally McManus spoke.
“It’s the same story everywhere. The sector is broken,” the MC said. “Early childhood educators are walking out the door, under severe pressure.”
Carla, an early childhood educator from Western Sydney said: “Our job should be a lifetime career. But we can’t survive on the pay we are given. Many early childhood educators are earning the basic award — around $24 an hour. Yet the bills keep going up.”
Mel, a parent, said: “My children feel safe and loved at childcare. Early educators have had a huge effect on my kids. You can’t put a price on that, and the staff should be paid in line with the value of their work.”
McManus told the crowd that they deserve “a real pay rise”.
“A rate of $24 an hour is completely unacceptable for workers who are guaranteeing the future of our children.”
United Workers Union early education director Helen Gibbons said the shutdown was “the largest action of early educators” in the country.
Gibbons said the system was “not delivering for educators … not delivering for children … and not delivering for families. We need real reform. Pay us what we’re worth and give us a reason to stay in the sector”.
Gibbons said early education was not valued “in the same way that we value schools”. She said children must be put before profit.