After waiting years for decent wages from the Nova Scotia provincial government, early childhood educators (ECEs) represented by CUPE were disappointed by the wage grid announced yesterday. “The Houston government’s true colours were shown today, with contempt for workers in the early learning and child care sector, who are virtually all women,” says Nan McFadgen, president of CUPE Nova Scotia.
“Both governments should reconsider this ill-conceived wage grid. They are sending a message that ECEs only deserve to scrape by and are not deserving of decent wages. The top hourly wage offered by the government is where wages should start off,” says Margot Nickerson, president of CUPE 4745. “Minister Druhan and Minister Gould are out of touch and don’t know what it means to be the ‘working poor’.”
“Imagine! Early childhood educators have been paid so poorly that the new wage grid isn’t even enough to lift them up to a living wage,” says Jennifer Chase, president of CUPE 3688. “They’ll continue to live in poverty and never be able to afford to retire.”
“The province has already received about $170 million since last year from the federal government, and will receive over $600 million by the end of the five-year agreement, but they deny the staff – who they call ‘the backbone and heartbeat of our children’s early learning journey – a fair and decent wage,” says Nickerson.
“After 60 years of advocacy for the child care sector, we believe this was an opportunity for the federal and provincial government to genuinely recognize the work of the educators in child care, but they chose not to,” says McFadgen. “Now, we wait to see if the Province will do better by ECEs when they announce changes to pensions and health benefits.”
The struggle to lift ECEs out of poverty continues. CUPE will support them in any type of job action they may decide to take in their fight for decent wages.