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Home > News > 2018 > May > If you think schools are safe from the ‘gig’ economy, think again

If you think schools are safe from the ‘gig’ economy, think again

 

Brad.jpgIf you think schools are safe from the ‘gig’ economy, think again

 

Precarious employment arrangements in the education sector are making our members just as vulnerable as workers in the ‘gig’ economy, as IEUA-QNT Assistant Secretary Brad Hayes writes.

 

The ‘gig’ economy is the buzz-word of the moment in labour economics and industrial relations.

 

Sadly, the reality of these roles — insecure work, lack of entitlements and conditions — are just the latest in a decades-long trend of casualisation and attacks on job security.

 

‘Gig’ economy jobs are characterised by short temporary contracts and the absence of basic minimum entitlements that normally apply to the employment relationship.

 

Companies such as Deliveroo and Uber are high profile examples, yet threats to job security and downward pressure on wages and conditions is present across all industries — including education.

 

Around four million Australian workers are now in some form of insecure work.

 

Will permanent jobs in schools be a thing of the past?

While not as visible as the new gig roles, threats to permanent jobs in our schools have been around for many years.

 

Outsourcing

Our school Chapters have long dealt with employers seeking to outsource services staff jobs to external contractors.

 

Fixed-term appointments

Members often report scenarios where employers are abusing the use of rolling fixed-term contracts for teachers and school officers in lieu of permanent positions.

 

Casuals

Our teacher members in English Language Colleges and Registered Training Organisations (RTOs) are almost exclusively employed as casuals.

 

Independent Contractors

The Uber and Deliveroo business model of engaging workers as independent contractors requiring their own ABN already exists in our sector.

 

Sports coaches, instrumental music teachers, IT support roles and Vocational Education staff are just some of the roles that have been classed as ‘contractors’ rather than employees in our schools.

 

This model is designed to deny these workers basic entitlements such as superannuation, workers’ compensation, severance pay, unfair dismissal protections and leave entitlements.

 

Union members are fighting back – time to Change The Rules

The push for secure jobs with basic workplace rights is a key part of the national Change The Rules campaign.

 

Our members are also fighting back in collective bargaining to protect permanent jobs:

  • Queensland Catholic school members have access to an agreed procedure by which they can transfer from illegitimate short-term contracts to permanent jobs.
  • The current Anglican school bargaining campaign has delivered a range of new protections to promote permanency over fixed-term contracts.

 

Having a job that you can count on is a foundation of Australian workplaces.

 

Our members will continue to campaign for the right of all workers to a basic level of income security and fair working conditions.

 

The so called gig economy is not a show we want any part of.

 

Attacks on job security in schools

  • Employer moves to outsource services staff jobs
  • Use of rolling fixed-term contracts
  • Rampant casualisation in training colleges
  • Use of independent contractors in lieu of employees

 

Topics : Change the Rules

Authorised by Terry Burke, Independent Education Union of Australia – Queensland & Northern Territory Branch, Brisbane.