Learning Support Assistants in the Maitland-Newcastle diocese have vowed to take on insecure employment as part of the next round of Enterprise Agreements negotiations.
LSAs in the diocese were the first in the state to receive permanent hours when in 2005 the Union successfully reached agreement for partial permanency. This was the first time this had occurred and LSAs were granted 65% of their average hours in a permanent capacity.
It has now been 14 years since this calculation was undertaken and, as it has not been repeated, many LSAs now have permanent hours well below those that they are actually employed.
“It’s the longer term members that are most disadvantaged. In 2005 when permanent hours were first offered, many LSAs were working around 10 to 15 hours per week which meant they received permanent hours in the vicinity of 5-10 per week,” said IEU Organiser Therese Fitzgibbon.
“Since this time additional needs funding has increased significantly and many of the affected members have been working 30 hours per week for a number of years. Unfortunately, as a result of the existing provision in the agreement, these additional hours are not reflected in their permanent appointments.
“This leaves this group of members in a vulnerable position when hours fall. Particularly where newer LSAs are receiving hours of permanency that reflect current allocations and may therefore be significantly higher. “When hours fall, it is the longer serving employees that have the most insecure employment and therefore the most adverse outcomes,” said Fitgibbon.
The Union will survey members to clearly establish current employment arrangements and will meet with affected members in the lead up to negotiations for a new EA via regional meetings.
“We will be seeking to work with chapters in the lead up to negotiations to ensure that this issue of equity is a priority in the campaign.”