The new Assistant Minister for Education, Sussan Ley, appears to have confirmed that conditional funding to increase wages under Labor’s Early Years Quality Fund will not be delivered.
The Education Department letter – obtained by The Australian – was sent on Friday, before the Abbott government’s month-long review reports on whether it can claw back $300 million allocated by Labor for pay rises in the industry, to compensate for its increased quality reforms.
Assistant Education Minister Sussan Ley has set a deadline of the end of this month for the independent report.
“If your organisation has not yet implemented wage increases or otherwise has not yet fulfilled the conditions of the commonwealth’s offer of funding, that offer of funding is hereby revoked,” the letter says.
“Your organisation should do nothing further to commit itself to wage increases in the expectation that EYQF (Early Youth [sic] Quality Fund) funding will be made available for those wage increases.”
An inevitable result. I publicly attacked the EYQF when it was first announced, and have done so ever since. It was, and is, appalling public policy.
It is important, vitally important, to remember that advocacy for our sector should not be tied to a single campaign, a single announcement, or a single political party.
The EYQF was a political victory for United Voice, not for the sector.
It was a last-ditch and desperate attempt by the out-going Labor Government to attempt to wedge the Coalition on childcare issues.
If the then-Government had taken the issue of professional wages seriously, they had six years in Government to do something about it. A fund that would apply to 40% of the sector, announced at the eleventh hour, was a joke.
So now we have early childhood centres who have, in good faith, applied for funds under the EYQF who will miss out. Threats of a class action are just threats at this stage, and I can’t anticipate that anyone in the ECEC sector will have the funds to launch a long and expensive court case.
The ECEC sector should immediately dismiss the EYQF, and union members should strongly advocate that only a solution that applies to the entire sector, without strings, should ever be agreed to on their behalf again.
Roll on the Pay Equity case at Fair Work Australia.