MPs call for $1.4b to lift the pay of childcarers
Melissa Parke ... will meet with Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan when Parliament resumes next week. Photo: Lyn Mills
The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, faces further pressure to take the budget into deficit, with a group of MPs saying a $1.4 billion injection into childcare to improve workers' wages is vastly overdue.
The MPs say the government has required the industry to hire more staff with better qualifications but has failed to help by boosting wages, resulting in a crisis in the industry.
''The workers are leaving in droves,'' West Australian MP Melissa Parke said. ''Childcare workers earn $18 an hour, $10 less an hour than the average wage. A lot of people are saying they can earn more money elsewhere. They are required to have diplomas and do courses and yet they aren't paid properly and are leaving.''
Ms Parke is one of the conveners of an internal Labor Party group formed 18 months ago to push within the Labor caucus for support for better wages for childcare workers.
Ms Parke will meet Ms Gillard, and the Treasurer, Wayne Swan, when Parliament returns next week to ask for the money for pay increases to be included in the budget.
Since Mr Swan announced late last year he would not be delivering a surplus, MPs have become increasingly outspoken about items they want in the budget.
Tasmanian senator Lisa Singh said the wage increase needed to be included in the budget and not left as a possible election sweetener later in the year.
''If you want to raise the standards [of the industry] surely part of that is paying people accordingly,'' Senator Singh said. ''We're not following it through with adequate wages.''
The industry broadly supports the government's push to improve qualifications and introduce higher ratios of staff to children but is struggling.
Sue Lines, the assistant national secretary of United Voice, the child care workers' union, said it was ''stunningly obvious'' that childcare workers needed to be paid more.