On 26 July the IEU began the final stage of a major case we commenced five years ago. In 2013 the Union made an application to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) for an Equal Opportunity Order in respect of our early childhood teachers.
Stripped of legalese and jargon we set out to prove that the work our members did with preschool children was of (at least) comparable value to other similar professionals, but that one group, being mainly female, was under rewarded in their rates of pay. If we were successful in convincing the FWC, it could decide whether or not to increase rates of pay to those of the comparator group.
Between 2013 and 2017, significant research, investigation and study was undertaken, with the Union lodging its evidence and witness statements in December 2017. The case commenced before the full bench of the FWC in July and was listed to run for several weeks.
We made our opening submissions and the FWC heard from our initial witnesses during the first two days. Almost immediately the FWC issued a statement indicating that based on that evidence and their “preliminary perusal” of the material we had lodged, it might be that the modern award minimum rates of pay had not been properly set.