Yeah, that's right, I'm getting involved.
Collective Bargainer. The governing EBA- Enterprise Bargaining Agreement for my foreign friends- which details the rights and responsibilities of the employee and employer and sets the minimum standard is up for negotiation this year, and I have done a very silly thing, I've nominated myself to be a part of the negotiating process. Its a silly thing from a personal time standpoint as this is going to suck back the hours of spare time I have. I also suspect I may have to take the odd day off work to participate.
Clearly then, this is an extraordinary step, so why have I taken it?
It is absolutely clear- certainly in the last agreement- that the union has more concerns regarding the teaching end of the educational system. If one takes the time to read the EBA, one will find the provisions for teachers to be quite extensive, which is fair enough, for them.
I am not a teacher. I work in boarding and that's a whole different kettle of fish. Comparatively speaking, no thought or time has been given to the boarding portion of the current EBA. At the school where I work, employees are given the award. There are no penalty rates for nighttime hours, or for hours after 6pm. There is no provision for annualized pay- meaning that we go at least 14 weeks per year without. Certainly Centrelink (unemployment for you Americans) doesn't cover even a simple mortgage payment so those weeks are hard. Also, at the school where I work, staff are at high risk. The intake is full of students who have been rejected or expelled by other schools for poor or violent behavior. The employees are not being compensated for the risks involved in the course of the employment. This is reflected in the high staff turnover rate in boarding.
Indeed, it has come to my attention that other boarding staff at other boarding schools covered by this EBA have certain benefits including live on site, annualized pay, and pay that could be as much as 25% more than we make where I work. What is even more disgusting is that some of these schools are owned by the same outfit that owns us, meaning that we are not even on parity with the other schools under the same umbrella, yet our risks are higher as we intake their castoffs.
Somebody has to stand up and say enough!
Things need to change, so I've entered the process to change them. I expect the union to do much of the talking, but the thing is, where I work, the vast majority of employees, like myself, are not unionized. The perception being that the union doesn't do anything except take the money. Therefore, in order that my concerns are heard, I entered the process. Someone has to do it.
Fortunately, I like a good argument.