The Guardian May 24, 2000

Childcare workers seek wage rise

by Magda Hansson 

The Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers' Union (LHMWU) which 
represents childcare workers has submitted a claim on behalf of its members 
for a $41 per week wage increase. Child care workers have not had a pay 
increase since July 1997.

Like many workers in industries where women are over represented they are 
amongst the lowest paid workers in Australia. The majority of them receive 
only the minimum legal wage of $399.80.

There are over 10,000 childcare workers in NSW employed in both the 
community and private sector. Qualified childcare workers are highly 
trained and skilled, having to exercise considerable responsibility in 
their work.

Employers want to take away paid lunch breaks, rostered days off and 
introduce temporary contracts for any increase in wages.

Twenty percent of the industry's workforce is already employed on casual 
basis. If employers were permitted to introduce short-term contracts it 
would lead to a further, significant reduction in wages.

For example, an employee on a nine-month contract who has to wait three 
months for their next contract would effectively earn 75 percent of what a 
permanent employee would have earned over the same period.

Childcare workers would be reluctant to commit themselves to a career in 
the industry and experienced workers would drift off into alternative areas 
where there is better job security and better pay.

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