Labour bites

Rio Police threaten to shut down Olympics

Police in Rio de Janeiro have threatened to continue their strike during the Olympic Games, which are set to begin in August.

Brazil’s police agents began a strike on Monday in Rio, partially closing police stations to protest.

The police officers are protesting delays in their pay, the lack of materials in their stations and the shortage of fuel for their vehicles.

“Patience is over. Now it’s a matter of survival,” said Fabio Neira, president of the Association of Civil Police of Rio de Janeiro. “We are collapsing. We will increase the mobilisation gradually, we do not want to be radical, but the government is leading us to that,” said Neira. “We are unsatisfied and without the prospect (of a solution), we can’t rule out a gridlock during the Olympic Games in August,” he added.

Police authorities put out a statement saying they understand the claims, which they also believe are fair. (Source: telesur)

The unfit gym

Dahlia Alie is part of a union drive involving more than 1000 GoodLife Fitness employees in Toronto. “There is a lot of intimidation. I would classify the atmosphere in the workplace right now as one of fear,” she said.

Canada’s largest health club GoodLife, which employs more than 12,000 group fitness instructors and personal trainers nationally, has made it clear it doesn’t want its workers to unionise, but denies charges of intimidation.

Tanya Ferguson, the Workers United Canada Council representative helping GoodLife workers organise, lists a slew of issues raised by workers, with wages being a major concern.

At GoodLife, fitness instructors start at an hourly rate of $25, while instructors at other Toronto gyms typically earn between $40 and $60 per class, according to Alie.

“You’d only get paid for 45, 50 or 55 minutes instead of an hour,” Ferguson said. “But when people come for a yoga class, for instance, they might have a question afterwards, and instructors are expected to stay and answer. You’d also arrive early so you could set up. The reality is that people were already working for more than an hour, but now they were getting paid less.”

GoodLife requires all of its instructors to be certified under accreditations, which it exclusively provides or owns. These extensive certification requirements, along with a non-competition clause (which GoodLife says is non negotiable), are major points of contention for workers.

Alie says employees no longer feel safe and respected at GoodLife. Despite the company’s claim of maintaining an open door policy for addressing concerns. Alie says those who have spoken out have been “singled out, demoted, fired and branded as troublemakers. (Source: Now)

Women denied access to pensions

As many as three million part time women workers are excluded from workplace pensions, according to a new report from the UK Trade Union Congress (TUC).

The report, Unfinished Business finds from analysis of official data that 4.6 million UK workers earn less than £10,000, which is the trigger for automatic enrolment into a pension.

Of these, 3.4 million are women. More than half (57%) of part-time workers earn less than £10,000 and by being excluded from automatic enrolment miss out on the employer contributions received by colleagues. Workers whose earnings from multiple jobs total more than £10,000 also miss out on automatic enrolment.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Automatic enrolment has been a great success, giving six million more people access to a workplace pension. “But millions of women workers are still missing out. We need to remove the barrier of the earnings trigger so that the millions of workers in part time work, including those holding down multiple jobs, are automatically enrolled onto workplace pensions too.

“Too many people are only receiving the legal minimum pension contributions. We need a clear plan to increase the money going into pensions to give workers a good chance of a decent retirement.” (Source: TUC)

High staff turnover in early childhood

Education experts fear a high turnover in childcare workers will have a detrimental impact on children at a critical point in their development.

A nationwide survey of 1200 childcare workers conducted by the Queensland University of Technology found one in five intended on leaving their job in
the next 12 months. The research is being led by developmental psychologist Professor Karen Thorpe, who said the turnover figure was concerning.

Professor Thorpe said follow up interviews at childcare centres revealed three primary reasons for staff leaving — working conditions, paperwork and pay.

“If we’ve got this turnover and we’ve got people leaving who are highly dedicated, highly qualified people, that is a real problem,” she said.

“[The children] are losing people they’re attached to and that’s not good for children’s learning or emotional and social development.

“The first five years of life is the period in human development where we have the greatest rapid brain development.

“What we know about that is children who have rich experiences in those first five years are set up for life — it makes a big difference — not only for now, but right into adulthood.” (Source: ABC)

John Quessy