Stage 2 Arbitration Decision summary for Early Childhood Educators30-06-2010
Both parts of the Arbitrated Decision have resulted in some very significant gains for preschool members.
The first part of the Decision, brought down on 10 February this year, delivered a minimum salary increase of 15.75% for all members (which amounts to 16.7% in real terms over the life of the Award). For preschool teachers currently on Step 8, the increase is even greater (21.3%), given that many will progress to Step 9 in October this year.
The Decision also provided for a new PSD4 classification. As a result 26 preschool directors were reclassified to the PSD4 level in April this year.
It is important to remember that improved maternity/adoption leave entitlements were implemented administratively from 1 January 2009 where paid leave increased from 12 to 14 weeks. Both permanent and contract employees are eligible for paid maternity or adoption leave provided they have completed 12 months continuous service prior to the birth or adoption of the child. A break of three months of less (excluding school vacations) does not constitute a break in service.
The second part of the Decision of the Full Commission of the SA Industrial Relations Commission, brought down on 25 June, provided long awaited improvements for ECWs engaged in contract employment. The Decision presents a one-off opportunity for eligible contract ECWs to be converted to permanency.
The criteria for conversions to permanency include ECWs who are employed at the commencement of the Award, remain employed at the commencement of Term 4, 2010 and have more than two years service and at least 15 hours per week across one or more sites.
The conversion process for these ECWs will be completed by the end of Term 4, 2010.
As this is a “one-off” opportunity for eligible ECWs to gain permanency it is vitally important that ECW members encourage all ECWs to join the AEU now. This represents a brief window of opportunity to ensure maximum numbers of ECWs are converted to permanency. The AEU can and will only support its members through this process.
Other positive developments arising out of the decision included strengthened overtime provisions; the Full Commission recognised that “the working of unpaid hours …. is endemic. This is an unacceptable situation and we expect that this level of hours worked without compensation will be reduced.”
The new provision includes a revised definition of “appropriate manager” in preschools which means the Director (or delegate). The Preschool Director will have the authority to approve the hours to be worked by the ECW without the requirement to seek approval from DECS.
This process should assist in avoiding situations whereby ECWs feel obliged to take on work without prior approval and as a consequence not being paid for that work.
In relation to TOIL the Full Commission determined that any TOIL not taken within 35 days after it is worked will be paid to the ECW.
In relation to workload for Preschool Directors, teachers and ECWs the Full Commission requested that the Chief Executive recast the current Commitment in relation to staffing of preschools to clarify:
- That contact time will continue to reflect current practice;
- That leadership release time for PSDs will continue to be set in accordance with the Preschool RES;
- That additional leadership time will continue to be provided at its current level as a minimum; and
- That group size and staff ratios will continue to be resourced according to the current Preschool Staffing Formula as a minimum.
In essence this means that if an appropriate commitment is not forthcoming, the Full Commission will regulate the current face to face teaching time and determine whether this should be expressed as a maximum as well as prescribing additional leadership time to PSDs. Group size and staff ratios may also be considered. Current conditions or better will be protected.
Provision was also made for the permanency of preschool teachers to be considered as part of a review process.
The gains achieved by the AEU were only made possible through the strength of our membership and the outstanding witness statements provided by our dedicated preschool members. We thank each and every person who contributed to this process.
Overall the outcomes following Arbitration and a long and determined campaign by the entire AEU membership give cause for considerable celebration and optimism for the future.
The AEU urges every preschool member to encourage others to join the AEU. Improvements in wages and working conditions are only achieved through collective action and a strong membership base.