Marrickville Council stands with child care workers

Marrickville Council voted this week to support local childcare workers and their campaign for better wages and conditions, including the National Big Steps Day being held on 17 November 2012.

Councillors Sylvie Ellsmore and Jo Haylen moved a Notice of Motion calling on the Council to actively support the Big Steps Campaign and to recognise the vital contribution that early childcare workers and their unions make every day to the development of children.

“Childcare workers provide essential support for working families but the reality is that this is a female dominated sector for which staff are paid considerably less than equivalent tradespeople working in male dominated professions,” Clr Ellsmore said.

“While there have recently been significant positive reforms to the sector, including increased Federal Government funding and the establishment of a National Quality Framework, more needs to be done to improve conditions for staff and services.”

“Marrickville Council has a strong tradition of Council-run child care centres, which provide higher wages for staff, but there are many private child care centres in the Council area which would benefit if the Big Steps Campaign’s call for $1.4 billion in increased Federal funding is successful,” said Clr Ellsmore.

Councillor Haylen said: “Currently, a childcare worker with a Certificate III earns just $18.58 per hour, which is close to the minimum wage and does not value the work undertaken by these people.”

“The Inner West is a growing area with increasing demand for childcare services. For this reason, it’s important that we all get behind the campaign for fairer wages and conditions for childcare workers.”

Local early childcare educator Tanya Martins (Barukcic) spoke in favour of the motion at the Council meeting. “A chronic shortage of staff means that 180 staff are leaving the sector every week due to poor wages and conditions,” Ms Martins said.

“Marrickville Councillors also requested further information about the level of demand for child care, particularly in light of the NSW Government’s recent decision to reduce the number of preschool hours available to local families,” said Clr Haylen.

“Marrickville Council is committed to supporting the sector and to ensuring that resources are targeting the greatest area of need,” said Clrs Ellsmore and Haylen.

On 17 November there will be a National ‘Big Steps’ Day, with family friendly events across the country. The NSW event details are:

   When: 10.30am until 1.30pm

   Where: Hyde Park North, near the Archibald Fountain

   Including: Picnic, a pram parade, children’s entertainment, music and fun activities.

Participants are asked to wear red

Website to RSVP: http://bigsteps.org.au/nov17

For more information or to join with the Greens at the Big Steps  Day contact: Clr Sylvie Ellsmore 0403 977 213 or sellsmore@marrickville.nsw.gov.au. A copy of the full text of the Notice of Motion is below.

Marrickville Council Meeting 6 November 2012 (as passed)

C1112(1) Item 13     NOTICE OF MOTION: Support for National Big Steps Day (Sydney)

Motion:        (Ellsmore/Haylen)

THAT:

1.     Council commends local early childhood workers and the Big Steps in early childhood education and care campaign, which aims to ensure that early childhood educators are provided with professional and equitable wages and working conditions;

2.     Council supports the promotion of the upcoming National Big Steps Day (Sydney) to be held on November 17th 2012, 10.30am, in Hyde Park, through its website, newsletter and other promotional materials;

3.     Council acknowledges that the early childhood education and care sector:

a.       makes a vital contribution to the development of children;

b.       provides essential support for working families;

c.       is a female dominated sector for which staff are paid considerably less than equivalent tradespeople working in male dominated professions; and

d.       is suffering from a chronic lack of qualified staff, as 180 educators leave the sector every week due to the poor wages and conditions.

4.     Council acknowledges that Marrickville Council has a number of early childhood education and care centres and that Council-run centres offer significantly better wages and conditions for staff, and a high quality of early child-hood education;

5.     Council acknowledges the trade unions which represent early childcare educators and carers, including the United Services Union, United Voice, the Australian Services Union and the Teachers Federation, and the contribution that union campaigns make to improving conditions for staff and the quality of services provided to the community;

6.     Council joins the Big Steps Campaign in calling on the Federal Government to make up the shortfall between award and professional wages in early childhood education and care sector, to the tune of $1.4 billion in recurrent funding;

6b.    Council calls on the State Liberal Government’s to reconsider their recent decision to reduce the maximum pre-school hours at public schools from 30 to 15 hours a week; and

7.     A report be provided to Council which includes information about:

a.       the numbers and length of the waiting lists for families living in the Marrickville LGA who are seeking a place in Council-run childcare centres and preschools;

b.       the numbers and length of the waiting lists for families living in the Marrickville LGA who are seeking a place in non-Council childcare centres & preschools;

c.       the likely impact on early childhood education and care services in the LGA from the reduction in hours available at NSW Government pre-schools;

d.       the likely impact on services in the LGA from current trends in the number of staff leaving the sector as a result of poor pay and conditions; and

e.       projections of future demand for both Council and non-Council childcare and preschool places in the LGA, in light of the ongoing inner west ‘baby boom’ and other pressures as noted above.
A full copy of the Notice of Motion can be found in the Business Paper Archives on Council’s website – 6 November 2012 Council Meeting – Item 13 – at http://www.marrickville.nsw.gov.au.

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