Thousands of early childhood educators have walked off the job in a nationwide protest, flocking to rallies in capital cities to call for higher pay and “a reason to stay”.
More than 50 child care centres in WA were affected by the strike action, with some shutting down for a full day and others partially closed.
Around 150 educators who packed the steps of Perth’s James Street amphitheatre on Wednesday chanted “what do we want? A reason to stay”.
The United Workers Union members had three main demands for Canberra — increase their pay, place more value on early learning as part of the education system and to put children ahead of profits.
Speakers who addressed the rally said the sector was “in crisis”, with undervalued workers leaving in droves and childcare centres forced to turn children away because of staff shortages.
They said highly-qualified educators were paid as little as $24.76 an hour m while unqualified babysitters charged $30 — leaving some struggling to pay their rent or to afford a car.
Unicare early education centre at the University of WA was one of the centres that shut for the day, sending 27 educators to the rally.
Unicare educator and Educational Leaders Association chair Doreen Blyth said the centre’s parent-run board had voted to support the one day closure.
“We’ve not had one negative comment — every parent has been…