ECE centres call for Ministerial powers Bill to be thrown out

09 June 2021

The Early Childhood Council is opposing a controversial Bill that grants the Minister of Education the power to dictate how private businesses use government subsidies, in a submission to the Education and Workforce Select Committee this morning.

“This Bill doesn’t promote quality education or care, and removes independent employers’ ability to incentivise performance. We think that’s a bridge too far,” said ECC CEO Peter Reynolds.

In a pre-budget announcement, Education Minister Chris Hipkins announced that centres choosing to adopt the Kindergarten Teacher’s Collective Agreement pay scale could access extra funding towards Pay Parity.

The Education and Training (Grants—Budget Measures) Amendment Bill means the Minister can impose additional terms and conditions on centres whether they opt-in to the inadequate funding proposal or not, even through many centres have indicated they can’t afford to adopt the new pay scale as the numbers aren’t economic.

“All indications are this is about compliance, not education and care. Centres must already meet over 300 separate compliance points for every minute they’re open right now, why would they sign up for more?”

“We disagree that the Minister should have power to dictate how private businesses use their funding and, in particular, set the terms and conditions for their staff. Centres didn’t sign up to the KTCA, and shouldn’t have to live with its conditions. What if the conditions change? What happens when the agreement expires next July? It’s a level of uncertainty they don’t deserve.”

“It’s created a situation where teachers expect a deserved pay rise their employers can’t afford.”

“All eyes are on the proposed funding review now, to deliver badly-needed fairness and transparency. The current broken funding model is not working, it needs to be ripped up and started again. It can’t be a band aid fix to engineer pay parity from the current mess. It needs a new vision with the healthy dose of ambition our children deserve,” said Mr Reynolds.

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