Because the system is not state-run, members who are covered by the collective agreement do not negotiate directly with the government or the Ministry of Education, such as teachers in elementary or secondary schools. Instead, negotiations are ongoing between employers and members. The Framework Agreement on Early Childhood Education (ECECA) includes hundreds of staff in a number of centres, but most ECE teachers are not covered by a collective agreement. Adding your voice is the first step in childhood with a unique voice. If you are a teacher at the ECE, this campaign does not change your existing employment contract and you remain covered by the employment contract you have with your employer. The union, Te Rito Maioha Early Childy New Zealand, and Barnardos said they need millions of dollars more a year from the government to ensure that teachers who are covered by their two separate collective agreements are paid as much as kindergartens and primary schools. Section 53 of the Employment Relations Act 2000 provides that an expired collective agreement remains viable for an additional 12 months, provided that the union or employer has entered into negotiations to replace the collective agreement before the expiry of the deadline. On Friday morning, teachers under the Early Childhood Collective Agreement (ECECA) and the Barnardos Collective Agreement will hold paid union assemblies to discuss the next steps in pay parity with kindergarten and primary school teachers. Rutherford said that some teachers who are covered by collective agreements could be paid up to 49 percent less than teachers who work in kindergartens and schools. Employers of the ECECA agreement and the Barnardos agreement are aware that they will return to the table if the government releases more funds, Bhat said. However, Te Rito Maioha Early Childhood New Zealand Executive Director Kathy Wolfe said that teachers who continue to increase the pay scale and are covered by their collective agreement with NZEI members could be paid 10 to 30 per cent less than those in kindergartens and schools.
For example, for an ECE teacher with a teacher`s degree, the maximum rate is $55,529 (according to the current collective agreement). But for a teacher with the same skill level who works in a preschool, the maximum rate is $83,000, a difference of $27,471, or 49.5 percent. Wolfe said she was not sure that the two sides would reach an agreement without more money from the government. Many interviewees who were not members of the NZEI did not believe that NZEI would be supportive of their affiliation because of the type of ECE service they worked for and/or that they thought that NZEI was a union reserved for kindergarten educators and teachers whose service had negotiated a collective agreement with the union. The union was seen primarily as an “ambulance” to assist individuals in labour disputes, not as important to join a collective voice in committing to the profession and the higher ECE.