How many of us take work calls at 2am? Or supervise strangers’ kids 24/7 for five days for nothing? Or block out whole weekends to write reports without overtime or time in lieu? Teachers do this and more all the time.
A government high school teacher friend is so busy that some days she literally has no time to go to the toilet. “I would usually work close to 60 hours a week and we are paid for 38 hours,” she says.
Before camps my friend prepares class plans for a fill-in and then marks the work upon her return. She gets eight hours off for reports, enough for one class. Most teachers have six, so the rest is in their own time.
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Bill Kelty made a memorable speech last week. Addressing the ACTU Congress Dinner in Sydney, the legendary ACTU Secretary who helped shape the Accord in the 1980s and 1990s, explained why he became a unionist.
“It was the underdog you always sided with in our family,” he told a hushed audience that included former Prime Ministers Bob Hawke and Paul Keating.
“The Aboriginal on death row, the Gurindji people, women not getting equal pay. It was Australia of whom you were proud, but not the Australia who sang God Save the Queen.
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By mid-century Australia will need almost one million aged care workers. That means almost five per cent of our entire national workforce will be engaged in caring for the burgeoning ranks of the old and frail.
Yet, today, we are struggling to maintain an aged care workforce just one quarter that size, leaving many vulnerable, elderly Australians at the mercy of rushed, impersonal “work flows” and a constantly changing roster of carers—and raising the dreadful prospect of “warehousing” the aged into the future, with little more than perfunctory physical care.
This should not come as a surprise. The entry level award wage for personal carers, for example, is significantly lower than the award for new zookeepers charged with the well being of animals.
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