Occident Prone

Welcome to Australia’s wild West

Posts Tagged ‘Industrial relations’

Sharks catch a break with pilot shortage

Posted by occidentprone on September 25, 2008

Australia has a pilot shortage, a story that doesn’t have a direct impact on a lot of people’s lives. So how to hit readers where it hurts? Make it into a shark story.

WAToday reports: 

Aerial shark patrols of Perth’s beaches will no longer be flown by Edith Cowan University’s aviation school which has operated the shark spotters since they started in 2001.

The WA government first contracted ECU to fly the patrols in November 2001 after businessman Ken Crew died when attacked by a 4m white pointer at North Cottesloe Beach in November 2000.

Until last summer, ECU had been able to marshall the forces of 15 to 20 student aviators to fly the shark spots out of Jandakot Airport.

… But last summer WA’s booming mining industry poached so many student pilots for fly-in, fly-out work that there were no longer enough students to keep the community safety service running.

… ECU is the only university in WA to offer a degree course for budding pilots.

Typically, students gain their commercial licence in the second year of their degree and build their flight hours up in the third year.

But increasingly, mining and tourism companies are employing students as soon as they get their licence, and the students complete their flying hours in full-time employment.

By the by, young and inexperienced pilots have long been getting a raw deal from many small and rural operators. Being a pilot is more of a vocation than a job or profession to a lot of people who have dreamed of owning the skies since the seventh time they saw Top Gun. And bosses have capitalised on that by paying measly dollars to pilots eager to fill in the log book and rack up the air time.

Maybe a short-term shortage is just what the industry needs to show employers they should ditch the cowboy culture, disregard for regulations and shelf-stacker pay and treat its staff as professionals.

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Posted in Diversions, Industrial relations, Perth | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

How can you underpay the lowest paid workers?

Posted by occidentprone on September 23, 2008

The WA economy is characterised as booming, no question. A lot of workers are rolling in it. This we know.

We also know (but may not want to acknowledge) there are those who aren’t keeping up. The elderly, the disabled, the unemployed. Even people who in low-paid jobs, who work for love or sense of duty or because they have no other skills.

So why oh why are some employers screwing the people who work where many others won’t – in the caring industries. Whether it is deliberate or accidental is up for debate. But carers in child care and aged care homes are being diddled, reports ABC.

About 90 West Australian child care workers will be reimbursed $35,000 after random audits found they were being underpaid.

The Australian Workplace Ombudsman randomly audited 31 WA child care providers and found 19 of them were underpaying employees.

Alfred Bongi from the Ombudsman’s office says WA was the worst offender and investigations into other child care services are continuing.

“A number of these employers have been issued with breach notices but in Western Australia so far they have all voluntarily complied,” he said.

“We are continuing investigations on three premises.

“We do these campaigns particularly to focus on vulnerable workers and we selected this industry because of the number of trainees and apprentices who work there.”

The Ombudsman’s report outlined their target:

One of the reasons why the aged care and child care industries were selected for audit was the understanding that they employ a high percentage of workers that the Workplace Ombudsman would classify as vulnerable. This proved to be the case with women being the predominant workers in the aged care industry and women and young workers being predominant in the child care industries.

Read the report further for a summary of issues in WA:

The campaign has supported the rationale behind Western Australia’s selection to undertake audits in the child care sectors with rates of pay and penalty rates as the breaches that were the most commonly identified issues in the industry.

The qualitative information collected highlights that the predominant findings (rates of pay) were due to a lack of understanding/knowledge of the pay scale increases that occurred in October last year. However, in some cases it was due to incorrect classification of employees based on their length of service in the child care industry and their qualifications.

… Another common finding was that employers were not engaging their full-time employees for the required hours under the industrial instrument. Both instruments in this case required a 38 hour week to be paid however, at least 6 employers were found to be in breach of this requirement and back payments for some of these businesses are still underway.

An unusual finding was that an employer was only paying one employee the rate that the business was subsidised per hour under the Commonwealth ‘Inclusion Support Subsidy’. This subsidy is a contribution towards the costs associated with including a child or children with ongoing high support needs in child care and is part of the Australian Government’s Inclusion and Professional Support Program. It does not void an employer from paying an employee their appropriate minimum rate of pay payable under the Act. The employer is currently in the process of rectifying this underpayment.

In Western Australia only 6 businesses (18%) were found to be complying. This is believed to be the lowest compliance figure for a time and wage campaign in Western Australia since March 2006. However, those that were appeared to be up to date on their knowledge of their employer obligations and usually had direct dealings with an external body such as Chamber of Commerce and Industry or a union such as the LHMU.

Seriously, this is bullshit.

And particularly here in WA right now where many workers are well paid and unemployment is low. 

For employers and workers alike, I give you the Workplace Ombudsman’s website: http://www.wo.gov.au  You can register for an email alert of changes to the published pay scales.

And dear readers, if your loved one, young or old, is in the care of a carer, it is up to you to make sure the carer is being treated as well as you would like Cupcake / Pops to be. That’s caring.

Posted in Australian politics, Perth, Politics | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

A lesson for the Carpenator

Posted by occidentprone on August 1, 2008

 The West Australian reports the WA teachers pay negotiations with the state government have broken down. 

The teachers’ proposed pay deal was on the brink of collapse yesterday, with almost half the union’s governing body breaking ranks to reveal they do not support the agreement struck with the State Government last week. 
   
More than a week after the pay offer was approved by the union’s executive and presented by the Government and union president Anne Gisborne as a fait accompli, seven out of 17 members of the executive have broken ranks to condemn it publicly. 
   
In what could prove to be a major embarrassment for the Government in the weeks leading up to the next State election, the union rebels are urging teachers to seriously question the deal when voting starts this month. 

…The Government has offered teachers pay rises of between 15 and 21 per cent over three years and annual allowances of between $3000 and $19,000 to those who teach in tough city schools and remote schools. Education Minister Mark McGowan says the deal would make WA teachers better paid than those in other States. 
   
But the seven rebels told The West Australian in a statement yesterday that the agreement would only keep pace with inflation. 

This is a tenuous link but under the subgenre of food for thought: What are our public servants to make of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s move to sack 22,000 California state workers and cut the pay of 200,000 more to minimum wage?

Here in WA the government is crying poor every time some two-bit irrelevant section of the public service, like say teachers or nurses or coppers, wants more money for the cushy jobs they do.

“Most of those laid off are seasonal and part-time staff, while the 200,000 remaining state employees would have their full salaries restored when a budget was agreed, the governor said.

“Today I am exercising my executive authority to avoid a full-blown crisis and keep our state moving forward,” he said.

“This is not an action I take lightly but we do not have a budget and, as governor, I have a responsibility to make sure our state has enough money to pay its bills.” 

… Asked whether his administration would sue the state financial controller’s office if it did not comply with the executive order, Mr Schwarzenegger said:

“If that’s what it takes. I’m here to make sure that our state functions, and whatever it takes, I will do it.” (Source: BBC

Alan Carpenter is no superhero like Arnie and our political system doesn’t allow the premier to sign away workers in the stroke of a pen on an executive order as has happened in the US. But in WA, where we have a worker shortage, the state is not going to function at all without happy teachers or nurses or coppers.

Like the man said, whatever it takes.

Posted in Diversions, Foreign affairs, Industrial relations, Perth, Politics, West Australian politics | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »