Labour bites

The cost of teachers’ mental health

Exposure to violence, workplace bullying and rising workloads have caused a spike in the cost of mental stress claims from Department of Education workers in South Australia.
Teachers, principals and social workers lodged claims at a rate of three to four a week last financial year, with the costs climbing more than 11% to $17.1 million.
Australian Education Union State President Howard Spreadbury said the ballooning average cost of claims by education staff, from $68,534 to $95,351 in 2015/16, showed they were becoming “more complex and protracted”.
“These sorts of reports should raise a flag to the employer to say . . . we need to do something about it,” he said.
“If we are talking claims of a psychological nature based on workload, then there are things the employer can do to alleviate that.”
More than 400 mental stress claims were lodged over the past two financial years, with work pressure, work related harassment or bullying, and exposure to workplace violence cited as the most common reasons. (Source: The Advertiser)

School support staff strike

Police were needed to sort the traffic chaos around some Catholic schools in Ontario recently on the first day of a strike against the Catholic school board by 370 employees belonging to Unifor Local 2458.
The board’s custodians, secretaries, clerical workers, technicians and maintenance workers launched the strike in protest at delayed negotiations for a new contract to replace the one that expired on 31 August 2014.
The picket line disrupted both the student drop off and teacher arrivals resulting in students being kept in the cafeteria until adequate number of teachers arrived.
The Union claims the board proposed ending its payment for benefits for current employees. Instead those employees would be placed in a benefits’ trust. It also wants to eliminate post retirement benefits for custodians, rewrite the sick leave plan and change work rules for custodians to eliminate 40 jobs or 25% of custodians.
No new talks scheduled and the union offered to go to binding arbitration, a process rejected by the School Board. (Source: The Star)

Voice actors go silent

A union representing thousands of voiceover actors has called for a strike against 11 videogame companies over a pay dispute.
The Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Arts (SAG-AFTRA), has been negotiating terms for a new contract with a coalition of nine videogame companies for nearly two years. The union represents actors, whose voices and likenesses are pervasive in videogames.
At the heart of the disagreement is actors’ demands for a portion of the revenue from game sales, on top of the industry’s standard average baseline rate of about $825 for a four hour session.
“Secondary compensation is what allows professional performers to feed their families in between jobs,” said a spokeswoman for SAG-AFTRA in a prepared statement.
Scott J Witlin, an attorney for the publishers’ coalition, said they had offered additional pay beyond the standard hourly rate, tied to the number of recording sessions an actor completes and not a game’s sales performance. (Source: Wall St Journal)

Sentenced for union activities

In Iran, the lawyer for two labour activists announced that each of them was sentenced to 11 years of imprisonment. The Islamic Revolutionary Court of Saveh sentenced Jafar Azimzadeh and Shapour Ehsanirad to 11 years of imprisonment.
Each was sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment for establishing labour related organisations and the free union of the Iranian workers. Each activist was additionally sentenced to one year of imprisonment for making propaganda against the regime. (Source: NCRI Iran News)
John Quessy