Labour bites

Childcare policy out of date

The Abbott Government’s childcare package is “decades out of date” and will put Australia behind other developed nations when it comes to early childhood reform, a new McKell Institute report says.

University of New South Wales researchers Deborah Brennan and Elizabeth Adamson argue the proposed childcare changes are not focused enough on children’s development and that there is no “policy rationale” for the government’s move to fund the $3.5 billion reforms through cuts to paid parental leave and family tax benefits.

The report, Baby Steps or Giant Strides, says the new childcare package is also disappointing because of its emphasis on getting parents into work without addressing “serious shortage” of places for babies and toddlers, attendance rates for early childhood education or staff shortages. (Source: SMH)

Less students, more teachers to go

A declining population of young students could lead to at least 2500 secondary school teachers being made redundant in the coming five years says the Hong Kong Professional Teachers’ Union.

The number of students entering secondary school has dropped by 2200 this year (almost 4%) and further drops are forecast. In addition policies that served to retain teachers introduced in 2010 have been scrapped.

The Union argues that employment stability and teacher retention are vital as the current slump in students will rebound by 2018 with a growth in cross-border student numbers. (Source: The Standard)

18 weeks pay for navy mums

The US Navy is tripling paid maternity leave for women who serve in the Navy and Marine Corps from six to 18 weeks in the first year after birth.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said the change was effective immediately and would be retroactive to 1 January. A mother does not have to take the leave at once but may use it within a year of her child’s birth.

“When the women in our Navy and Marine Corps answer the call to serve, they are making the difficult choice to be away from their children – sometimes for prolonged periods of time – so that they can do the demanding jobs that we ask them to do,” Mabus said in a statement.

The 84 days, or 18 weeks, which is generous by American standards replaces the previously authorised 42 days, or six weeks. (Source: Reuters)

Bargaining ban by Sotheby’s

Cleaners at Sotheby’s have been barred from working at the auction house after they staged a protest asking for better sick pay terms in their contracts with their employer. Workers and supporters staged a demonstration outside the auctioneer on Bond Street as it played host to the sale of multi-million dollar contemporary art pieces.

According to United Voices of the World (UVW), the independent trade union that organises the workers, all four cleaners who attended the demonstration were denied entry to work the next day.

Teenager earns $2 per hour in NZ

A teenage girl who earned less than $2 an hour for waitressing at a Wellington restaurant because she was deemed to be a volunteer, has won a ruling that says she was an employee.

The Employment Relations Authority has ordered the restaurant to cough up $2635 in unpaid wages and holiday pay to the young girl who started there as a 16-year-old in January 2014. By the time she finished four months’ later she had only been paid $480, despite working about 258 hours.

The restaurant company’s director provided a statement saying the restaurant’s shareholders – including the complainant’s mother – had an agreement that each would volunteer a family member to help out.

In finding that the girl was an employee the employment authority said that it did not accept that the girl’s relationship with the restaurant could “fairly be characterised as that of a volunteer on grounds that her mother had a shareholding “ and that the complainant “provided coherent evidence that she was offered wages in exchange for work”. (Source:NZ Herald)