Labour bites

On the buses

A Sydney bus driver was forced to keep driving until the date her baby was due and had to rush back to work early after being denied paid parental leave on a “technicality”.

Shelley Parker worked for the required 10 out of 13 months before the birth of her first child six weeks ago and was hoping to take six months off to care for the baby but because the 10 months she worked were not consecutive her application for paid parental leave was rejected. That is despite having worked a total of 1720 hours in 10 months, when she was required to have worked for only 330 hours to be eligible.

She said she was not told that she could only take an eight week break from work to qualify for the scheme which she expected would grant her about $13,000 for the six months she has hoped to take off work.

The Transport Workers Union said Mrs Parker and her family were “just seeking access to the regular scheme that Tony Abbott’s Government has shut them out of on a technicality”. (Source: Fairfax)

Is Google anti-union?

Google Express, which unlike many other new companies does not make its workforce independent contractors but instead subcontracts its workforce through a staffing agency — is facing labour troubles of its own. And the battle is heating up.

Workers employed by the agency Adecco, petitioned for a union election in late July, seeking representation from the Teamsters Local 853.

Now the union is alleging that Google and Adecco are running an anti-union campaign and has retaliated against one worker who spoke to the press about his support for unionisation by suspending him from work.

The Teamsters filed an unfair labour practice complaint with the National Labor Relations Board on August 10, alleging that suspension was “in retaliation for his protected, concerted and union activity”.

The union also alleges that Adecco “directed and/or impliedly directed employees not to talk about the union at work,” in violation of rights protected under the National Labor Relations Act.

Google also declined to comment on its contractor’s anti-union stance and whether or not it would switch to another agency if the Adecco workers unionise.

(Source: SF Weekly)

Privatisation strikes the National Gallery

In London about 200 members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union began an indefinite strike in late August. The industrial action follows privatisation plans that the gallery said would enable it to introduce a new roster to “operate more flexibly and deliver an enhanced service”.

Speaking to BBC London, Nick McCarthy, the union’s director of campaigns and communications, said: “We have no alternative but to go on strike, the privatisation is completely unnecessary.

“Millions of tourists won’t be able to get access to the vast majority of works of art in the gallery, and that’s enormously regrettable, but the blame for this lies with the gallery. We have sought to negotiate, but the gallery refuses to engage on this and seems hell bent on outsourcing this contract,” said the Union.

There will be a picket line outside the gallery in Trafalgar Square. (Source: BBC)

Back to school with work to rule

Two hundred thousand teachers in Ontario, Canada, could launch escalating work to rule job actions when school starts in September. That includes all the teachers in the English, Catholic, and French school systems, all publicly funded.

Since last August, all Ontario’s public school teachers have been without a contract. The majority had their last contract imposed unilaterally in 2013 by provincial legislation. It froze wages, provided for mandatory unpaid days off, and cut paid sick days in half.

Meanwhile, elementary teachers announced that they will escalate the work to rule they began last spring and Catholic teachers began job actions today in districts where school is already underway.

In this round of bargaining, the unions signalled early that they would accept no more attacks. Unions are shocked at the deep concessions the Ontario Public School Board Association is demanding, such as removing hard won local caps on class sizes.

“The government is making schools the scapegoat for its financial woes,” says Ann Hawkins, president of the English Catholic Teachers (OECTA): “You can’t have the education system keep taking the cuts, without the cuts affecting the classroom.” (Source: Labor Notes)

Labour bites is compiled by

John Quessy
IEU General Secretary