Kindergarten teachers in Victoria, Australia struck today in support of high quality early years education and parity of pay and esteem with primary colleagues. Although they are just as qualified, early years teachers earn considerably less than those working in primary schools. Their leaders say that such disparity will make it difficult to attract teachers in the sector and that many are leaving as a result of the low pay. Excessive workload is also a problem.

Over 1000 teachers attended a rally at a theatre in the city ahead of a march on the state parliament. The chair of the Victorian Branch of the Australian Education Union (AEU) said in a statement:

"It’s clear that the early childhood profession and preschool communities are not being taken seriously by the Victorian State Government. Throughout the long-running negotiations, there has been no commitment to securing fair and reasonable employment conditions for staff. We need to be able to attract and retain a high quality workforce. Without this, children miss out on the crucial milestone of early childhood education."

The AEU Vice-President for early childhood education issued a call to members: "This action isn't just about stopping work – it's a show of strength and unity, and it's everybody's fight."  The call has certainly been heeded with many kindergartens closed and thousands of teachers on strike today.