Childcare workers to strike over poverty wages

THOUSANDS of childcare workers will walk off the job on Thursday to protest "poverty wages" as low as $21 an hour.

The union organised protest will see some centres put on skeleton staff to care for children not collected by their parents when workers leave as part of the "walk off" at 3.20pm.

It is the third and biggest walk-off as part of the wages campaign by the childcare workers' union, United Voice, targeting the Federal Government to fund a 35 per cent pay increase.

About 3000 workers plan to take part forcing about 10,000 families to find alternative care.

United Voice assistant national secretary Helen Gibbons said the action came as an equal pay case lodged four years ago in the Fair Work Commission moved at snail's pace.

Meanwhile, childcare educators struggling to afford to pay their mortgage and bills were being forced out of the industry because of poor pay, according to Ms Gibbons.

She said that was despite expectations they hold qualifications and meet high standards.

Union figures show a childcare worker can earn as little as $21.29 an hour, or $42,218 a year - about half the average wage. An early childhood teacher currently earns just $26.57 an hour.

"The educators have very clearly set their sights on the Federal Government and said you need to fund this sector properly because at the moment (it) is funding it by relying on early educators to work on poverty wages," she said.

Australian Childcare Alliance Queensland general manager Brent Stokes said it was disappointed the union decided to take the action the day after Early Childhood Educators Day.

He said it believed it was appropriate to deal with the wage issue in the Fair Work Commission.

The centres affected by the walk-off have not been named, but one of the centres involved, Wynnum's Children @ Bay Terrace, said parents had been consulted weeks in advance.

"We keep getting told you deserve it, you're professionals and the job that you do is amazing, yet they don't give that back to us in wages like other people with the same qualifications," centre director Bex Swainson said.

News Corp Australia

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