Many childcare workers in Australia earn as little as $40,000 a year.
More than 1,000 childcare workers across the country clocked off early on International Women's Day to go on strike at 3:20pm, the time when women effectively start working for free due to the gender pay gap.
They demanded that prime minister Malcolm Turnbull accept responsibility to fund equal pay for their "overwhelmingly female workforce".
Childcare is known as a "pink collar" sector because 97% of employees are female.
“Early childhood education is not something that women do just for the love of it," United Voice assistant national secretary Helen Gibbons said.
"This is their profession and they must be paid appropriately. Incomes that are... so low they are insulting. As educators say, ‘Love doesn’t pay the rent'."
Last year childcare workers chained and padlocked themselves to the entrance of treasurer Scott Morrison’s Sydney office to demand he support their application for professional pay.
In a pre-budget submission made in December, the union asked the government to increase its investment in early childhood education to 1% of GDP and to “recognise the endemic low pay that characterises gender-segregated occupations”.
Gina Rushton is a breaking news reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Sydney.
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