Posted on Tuesday, 13 September
This year’s Early Childhood Educator’s Day, held on Wednesday 7th September, was marked by mass protests. Across the country over 3,000 educators participated, fed up with decades of being undervalued, under-resourced, and underpaid. In Melbourne, 1,000 assembled at Federation Square before marching through the city to Carlton Gardens.
Victorian Socialists members were proud to attend this fiery rally of mostly female workers - angry and ready to fight for better wages and working conditions. Liz Walsh, Victorian Socialists' lead upper house candidate for the Western Metro Region, organised a solidarity contingent. Liz, who lives in Maidstone with her family and new born daughter, knows first-hand what for-profit childcare means for working parents and carers. Many other VS members with children in early learning attended the rally and brought their kids along.
Early-childhood educator and long-term member of Victorian Socialists, Ruby Healer, spoke to the ABC about why educators were walking off the job:
“We're taking action today because there is a real crisis in the childcare system, that sees educators overworked and underpaid, leaving the job in droves. And it also sees parents paying some of the highest childcare fees in the world - that's if they can access it at all. This is all the direct result of an essential service being run for profit, when it should be run as a universally accessible part of the education system. So we're fighting for higher wages that reflect the value of the work that we do, and we are demanding that all education should be free".
Ruby also talked about the need for more workers’ struggle to win higher wages as the rich get richer and the cost of living spirals out of control: “Every worker in Australia right now is facing the full brunt of a cost of living crisis. Wages aren’t going up, but prices and profits are. I think we need more actions like this, I think we need more fighting unions to take the wealth from the top of society and use it to build a society that works for everyone.”
Victorian Socialists stand with early childhood educators in their fight for better pay and a better childcare system. It’s criminal that private corporations in Australia are allowed to profit off of working families and the exploitation of a largely female workforce. We will fight for childcare to be brought entirely into public hands and run as a free, universally accessible public service, with decent wages and conditions for educators.