Unions and ECE: a history

Early childhood education and the union movement have a long relationship. See some of the history here.

1840 Te Tiriti o Waitangi signed.
Samuel Duncan Parnell - won the 8 hour day Campaign
1877 Education Act established free secular and compulsory public education in New Zealand at the primary school level. It also made limited provision for secondary school.
1878 Trade unions became legal.
1883 New Zealand Education Institute (NZEI) founded.
1889 First independent kindergarten established in Dunedin.
1890 Maritime Strike - workers defeated.
"Sweating" Commission Report - revealed that many NZ workers suffered terrible working conditions (long hours, low pay, unhealthy and unsafe working conditions). The Liberal Party won the elections later that year, promising to address these.
1893 Universal adult suffrage introduced - votes for women.
1894 Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act (IC&A Act) - Established wages and conditions bargaining process designed to prevent strikes but also gave official encouragement to trade unions. This system lasted into the late 1960s.
1898 Old age pensions introduced.
1899 Labour Day proclaimed a holiday - to commemorate the 8 hour day campaign.
1913 General Strike - workers defeated when the Massey Government recruited Special Constables from the farming community ("Massey's Cossacks").
1929 The Great Depression - very high unemployment, much poverty, much hopelessness - Riots by unemployed workers in Auckland and Wellington in 1932.
1935 First Labour Government elected.
1936 5 day, 40 hour week became standard.
1938 Social Security Act passed - established the concept that every citizen had the right to a reasonable standard of living and it was the community's responsibility to safeguard that. Established Universal Superannuation, Unemployment Benefit etc.
1944 Education Act - introduced universal free compulsory secondary education.
1947 Report of the Consultative Committee on Pre-Kindergarten Education (The Bailey Report) recommended the state takes over early childhood education.
1948 National Playcentre Federation established.
Kindergarten teachers' salaries paid by government.
1951 Waterfront Lockout (also included many coalminers) - very long and bitter industrial dispute that split the labour movement. Workers defeated when non-union labour took over the strikers' jobs.
1952 Post Primary Teachers' Association (PPTA) was formed - amalgamation of Secondary School and Technical Teachers' Associations.
1958 NZ Kindergarten Teachers Association (NZKTA) established as a national association to represent kindergarten teachers.
1959 First kindergarten teachers training college opened in Auckland.
1960 Childcare Centre Regulations introduced setting minimum standards for all childcare centres.
Government Service Equal Pay Act - established equal pay for equal work to the state sector.
1963 First childcare training course set up by New Zealand Childcare Association (now New Zealand Childcare Association / Te Tari Puna Ora o Aotearoa, NZCA).
1971 Committee of Inquiry into Pre-Kindergarten Education (The Hill Report) supported the Bailey Report and promoted greater access to ECE services.
1972 Equal Pay Act - extended equal pay for equal work in the private sector.
1975 Government grant to establish a one year childcare course at Wellington Polytechnic.
1975 Māori Land March - Led by Dame Whina Cooper.
1975-84 Muldoon's National Government and Merv Wellington, Minister of Education gave KTA members lots of grief. Serious political advocacy started to gain traction among kindergarten teachers.
1976 First home-based education and care service established.
1977-78 Bastion Point occupation
1980 Early Childhood Care and Education - State Services Commission report.
1981 Springbok Tour of New Zealand
1982 First Kōhanga Reo opens at Pukeatea, Wainuiomata.
Early Childhood Workers Union (ECWU) registered as an industrial union for childcare workers. Childcare workers had far worse pay than their Kindergarten colleagues.
1983 Childcare Training Department of Social Welfare Report released. Trained staff grant introduced.
1984 The first Award for childcare (Consenting Parties) was agreed without wage rates during the Wage-Price Freeze (1982-84)
Kindergarten teachers held their first national strike.
1984-90 Labour Government was more favourably inclined towards the ECE sector - Russell Marshall was the Minister of Education 1984-87 and David Lange 1987-90.
1985 Industrial award covering childcare workers (Consenting Parties) agreed, and included wages for the first time.
Childcare centres with 'A' licence required to have at least one trained staff member. A range of qualifications were accepted.
Child Care Services: impact and opportunities report by the Social Advisory Council.
1986 Childcare transferred from Department of Social Welfare to Department of Education.
Three year training for kindergarten teachers working party report. Childcare Training working party report.
National Award for childcare workers established.
1987 Integrated three year training in early childhood education introduced.
ECWU negotiated a 9% wage increase in the Consenting Parties Award and 24% increase in the National Award.
1980s The late 1980s saw the campaign for quality ECE which resulted in approximately 50% increases in funding. Centres with under two year olds had increased of several hundred per cent in their funding.
1988 Education to be More (The Meade Report) and Before Five were released. Both advocated strongly for quality ECE reported the long term benefits of ECE for children and society and recommended a broad policy framework and equitable funding across services. A fair funding formula for all services was developed after the release of the reports.
1989 Education Act implemented "Tomorrow's School" reforms - Education Boards abolished and replaced by individual, parent-dominated Boards of Trustees for each school.
Before Five: Care and Education in New Zealand established ECE as a priority social policy area and gave ECE equal status to kindergartens.
1990 First six Kura Kaupapa Māori open in New Zealand.
1990-99 National Government led by Jim Bolger. John Luxton, Brian Donnelly, Tau Henare, Nick Smith and Bill English were all Ministers or Associate Ministers of Education with responsibility for ECE.
1990 NZKTA and ECWU amalgamated to form the Combined Early Childhood Union of Aotearoa (CECUA).
The Discretionary Grants Scheme through the Ministry of Education provided funds to assist with capital costs to enable centres to be licensed and chartered.
1991 Government budget halved funding for under two year olds. Requirement for 'person responsible' in a childcare service downgraded from 120 points to 100 points. Compulsory teacher registration for kindergarten teachers made voluntary.
Industrial awards abolished and employment contracts introduced (Employment Contracts Act 1991).
1992 Bulk funding of Kindergarten teachers' salaries introduced - resulted in protracted kindergarten contract negotiations.
Education (Home-based Care) Order legislated.
Health and Safety in Employment Act.
1993 Te Whāriki draft introduced.
1994 CECUA amalgamated with NZEI to form NZEI Te Riu Roa.
1996 Te Whāriki introduced and Desirable Objectives and Practices (DOPs) implemented.
Future Directions report released. Developed by the sector, the report set out recommendations to support quality ECE services.
Kindergarten teachers took strike action and the union won salary increases and an increased bulk grant to fund them.
1997 Kindergarten teachers removed from the State sector by the National Government under parliamentary urgency.
1998 Pay parity for primary teachers negotiated by NZEI Te Riu Roa - introduction of a unified pay scale in the state school sector.
1999 Helen Clark's Labour led Government (fifth Labour Government) took power. Trevor Mallard and Steve Maharey were the Ministers of Education.
Kindergarten Job Size Evaluation established the case for pay parity.
2000 Kindergarten teachers returned to the State sector.
Employment Relations Act - replaced the Employment Contracts Act 1991. Promoted collective bargaining, permanent employment over fixed term, paid employment education leave.
2002 Ngā Huarahi Arataki : A 10 Year ECE Strategic Plan 2002 - 2012 released which was based on and included many of the recommendations from Future Directions. It had three goals of increased quality, participation and collaboration. Targets for 100% qualified and registered teachers in teacher-led services by 2012 established.
Pay parity for Kindergarten teachers negotiated by NZEI Te Riu Roa. A three decade campaign finally secured pay parity for next five years (2002-06) - A 61% pay rise.
Health and Safety in Employment Act amended - encourage employee participation in workplace health and safety management though worker-elected Health and Safety reps.
2004 Pay parity for education and care teachers working it sites covered by the Consenting Parties Collective Agreement negotiated by NZEI Te Riu Roa.
2003-04 The New Zealand Council for Educational Research conducted the first National Survey of Early Childhood Services including Kindergartens, Playcentres, Community based and Private centres, Home-based and Hospital Services with the exception of Kōhanga Reo. Supervisors, Teachers and Parents provided information on; hours of operation, ratios, employment conditions, funding, assessment and curriculum. This survey provided a baseline picture of all early childhood services.
2005 Foreshore and Seabed debate.
Person responsible in an ECE service required to have a recognised teaching qualification and be a registered teacher.
Funding system changed and the "staff hour count" came in, introducing a 5 band funding system that related to the percentage of registered teachers in ratio.
2007 '20 hours free' entitlement implemented.
Second survey was conducted on opening hours, ratios, employment conditions, funding, assessment and curriculum in 2007 by NZCER.
2008 50% ratioed staff in teacher-led services required to be qualified and registered teachers.
Home-based services changed from chartering to licensing under the 2008 regulations.

National Government resumed power. Anne Tolley was the Minister of Education. There were several significant backward steps made:

  • Ngā Huarahi Arataki : A 10 Year ECE Strategic Plan 2002 - 2012 was removed from the Ministry website only weeks after the election
  • Removal of plans to improve ratios
  • Reduction of new regulatory requirements
  • Cut the Centres of Innovation programme which support show cased best practice and encouraged innovation and research
  • Suspension of the Discretionary Grants Scheme which allowed for capital works for community based services
  • Changes to the Incentive Grants Scheme which made them harder to access
  • Changed the name of the 20 hours free policy to 20 hours ECE, making it easier to introduce compulsory fees
  • Reduction of parent subsidies available through Work and Income
  • Professional development cut - both Kei Tua o te Pae and the General contracts
  • Parent Support and Development pilot was discontinued, despite their success
  • The provisionally registered teacher support grant was removed for services who had reached 80% registered teachers

2009 Targets for 100% qualified and registered teachers in teacher-led services in reduced to 80%. Target for 100% dropped.
Minister of Education Anne Tolley announces the timeline for the implementation of National Standards in the primary sector.
2010 100% funding band carved off - services were no longer able to receive funding for employing 100% registered and qualified teachers.
Provisionally Registered Teacher Grant no longer available for services who employed over 80% registered teachers.
Entry to ECE workforce for primary-trained teachers
Education Minister Anne Tolley announced the establishment of the independent Early Childhood Education (ECE) to review the ECE sector and make recommendations to the Government on ECE across funding and policy settings.
2011 Due to the funding cuts the Early Childhood Education Collective Agreement of Aotearoa (ECECA) pay rates dropped behind parity again.
The ECE Taskforce: An Agenda for Amazing Children was released in June - the most significant ECE policy document that has been released in years. There were 65 recommendations for wide ranging reforms.
2012 Two of the three advisory groups that came out of the ECE Taskforce: An Agenda for Amazing Children were established in February. They were the Improving quality of ECE services sector-wide and the Improving quality of ECE services for children aged less than two years.
2012 May budget announced a 70% increase in equity funding though the government decision to not increase ECE all other funding to compensate for inflation meant another effective cut to ECE funding. This was the third year in a row that there had been an effective cut in funding.
Paid Parental Leave Bill introduced.
Better Public Services review announced in June.
Recommendations from the Improving quality of ECE services sector-wide and the Improving quality of ECE services for children aged less than two years advisory groups were released.
Sector Advisory Group on Early Childhood Education (ECE) Funding established.
Review of the Home-based early childhood education announced in August. In December it was announced that the review was to be deferred to 2013.
Delivering Better Public Services: Supporting Vulnerable Children Result Action Plan was released in August.
Annual Meeting elected their first ever National President who was from the early childhood education sector.
John Banks read the first reading of the Education Amendment Bill to introduce Charter Schools in October.
 2013 The Productivity Commission began an inquiry into Boosting Productivity in the services sector in April.  This rules the compulsory education sector out of scope but thought that ECE should be in scope because it is a service based sector.
The Ministry of Education put out a request for proposals for Continuity of Early Learning : Learning progress and outcomes in the Early Years, Two research projects in May. This was seeking to improve information about children's learning outcomes, with a government desire to aggregate data.
The May budget cut funding for advice and guidance programmes for provisionally registered teachers in ECE across the entire sector.  It also only provided a 0.66% increase in the bulk funding rates, which was effectively another cut as this didn't even keep up with inflation.
Two ERO reports on the sector's ability to implement Te Whāriki effectively and services' priorities for children's learning were released in May.
In June the Minister of Education, Hekia Parata, released her discussion document on the review of the New Zealand Teachers Council. This included support for differentiated qualifications in the ECE and compulsory sectors and the ranking of all professional leaders' ability to support beginning teachers.
The Ministry of Education confirmed the 'Progress and Consistency Tool' (PaCT), a computerised National Standards assessment tool, would be mandatory for all children in all primary schools from 2015. NZEI and NZPF resolved to boycott the tool, saying it would not fix the flaws in National Standards, would narrow children's learning, de-professionalise teaching and could be used to try to measure individual schools or individual teachers based on "shonky" student achievement data.
Legislation for Charter Schools passed its third reading in June.
12th July the Minister of Education Hekia Parata reversed her decision to make PaCT, a computerised National Standards assessment tool, mandatory for every primary school student in 2015.
2014 The Government announces the Investing in Educational Success (IES) policy. The policy does not yet include ECE and could exclude ECE teachers from formal collaboration opportunities.
NZEI proposes the Better Plan as an alternative way to spend the $359 million the government has dedicated to the IES. The Better Plan recognises the role that ECE plays in a child's learning journey and the importance of collaboration between primary and ECE teachers.
The ERO released a report into how kindergartens and early childhood education providers implemented employment practices to manage and develop staff.
The Vulnerable Children Act 2014 was passed. The Act required all new employees working with children to be vetted and all existing employees to be subject to on-going safety checks.
The Education and Science Select Committee reports on engaging parents, family and wider communities in the education of their children.
NZEI Te Riu Roa teacher and principal members in primary and area schools vote to reject the government's IES policy.
The Employment Relations Amendment Act passes. The Act significantly undermines employees' ability to negotiate collectively by allowing an employer to opt out of being part of a multi-employer collective agreement and removing the obligation to conclude an agreement once negotiations have started. This Act also allows a worker's pay to be docked by 10 per cent for industrial action and removes the statutory right to defined rest and meal breaks, instead requiring that breaks be negotiated with the employer directly.
2015 ECE funding advisory group reconvenes to "reduce compliance and complexity" in the funding system. Ministry of Education were to develop a policy package to consult with the sector in the latter part of 2015. No funding sector consultation occurred.
10 new Ministry of Education regional directors were appointed to work across all aspects of education from ECE to tertiary.
Health and Safety at Work Act came into force in September 2015. This meant that education leaders hold more responsibility for duty of care of employees/volunteers.
NZEI Te Riu Roa delivered the members submission on Paid Parental Leave to the Select Committee seeking 26 weeks of paid parental leave.