Labour bites

Staff ordered on to annual leave during flood

As the Fitzroy River flooded into Rockhampton’s suburban streets and homes, staff at a southeast Queensland council were told they should use their annual leave for their time away from work.

Despite warnings from Queensland police and Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to seek shelter and stay off the roads during and after Cyclone Debbie, council workers were told they’d still be slugged annual leave.

“Our view is that, when there is a natural disaster like that, the employer should be ensuring that staff are treated appropriately,” Services Union Secretary Neil Henderson said.

“Now’s not the time to be clawing back entitlements from those who listened to the warnings issued by the authorities. They were acting responsibly in what was an emergency weather event,” Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said. (Source: 7 News)

Teachers pay for basics

Teachers in the New England region are spending up to $2000 a year on basic school supplies for their students. In response to a survey of more than 10,000 teachers in Australian schools local education advocates said teachers are sacrificing money from their own salaries for their students.

The Australian Education Union survey found 95% of teachers spent their own money on school supplies. It also exposed the reliance of schools on fundraising proceeds for necessities. New England P&C Chairwoman Rachael Sowden said it was not uncommon for teachers in the New England region to spend thousands of dollars each year on ‘must have’ items.

“Parents are putting their hands in their pockets for toilet paper and hand sanitiser,” Ms Sowden said. “Ensuring that hand wash, toilet paper and tissues are there really isn’t much to ask.

“Some teachers put something extra in their trolley every week for their classrooms to make sure the class has got what they need; whether it’s a packet of pens or something else.

“The fact that teachers are contributing to essentials highlights the fact that our schools are not getting the support and resources they need and what our kids deserve,” a NSW Teachers Federation acting regional organiser confirmed.

The Department of Education and Communities declined to comment on the survey results. (Source: Northern Daily Leader)

End modern slavery

One year ago, companies started reporting under ground breaking legislation on modern slavery. The UK Modern Slavery Act demands that all large companies, globally, who operate in the UK market, provide an annual, board approved, publicly available statement that describes what they are doing to eliminate the curse of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains. So far over 1700 companies have released statements which are now searchable on a central registry.

The latest analysis reveals a small cluster of leading companies whose statements demonstrate a strong commitment to this cause. But there is a far longer list of companies who have yet to begin a journey to even identify where they have risks of forced and child labour. Nevertheless, a large number of companies have said that government demand for mandatory transparency has provoked substantial discussion and movement among bosses, and the impact of the Act, even with its punches pulled, demonstrates the power of collaboration between government, business and civil society to achieve a level playing field of mandatory transparency.

There are still voices that oppose concerted action by governments. They seek to describe laws to eliminate modern slavery as protectionist restrictions on trade, or a cost to business. It is neither. Instead, it should be the end game of a struggle to end the unconscionable and brutal trade and ownership of fellow human beings, that we hoped had ended some 150 years ago. (Source: Reuters)

Mounties to get their union

Mounties in Quebec have decided to try to go it alone on the unionisation front. The RCMP won the right to unionise at the Supreme Court of Canada more than two years ago. To date though, members of Canada’s national police force have largely been split in their support for two groups seeking to represent them: the National Police Federation and the Mounted Professional Police Association of Canada.

Those two groups do not get along. The Quebec group, with 800 members, is smaller than the national organisations, but it has the longest history in terms of seeking the right to form a union.

In a news release, Serge Bilodeau, president of the Quebec group, said while he wanted mounties to file a single request for certification, “our efforts at joining our union goals across the country were in vain.”(Source: CBC News)

Complied by
John Quessy