|Issue No 87||10 March 2001|
Child Care OH&S 'a Time Bomb'
Victorian child care workers are so fed up with their lousy wages and conditions, they are prepared to go on strike.
Child care workers are suffering record levels of stress related illnesses and parents cannot afford the cost of child care, according to two Victorian surveys released today.
"Child care workers are carrying the burden of a lack of resources and are fed up with the community and politicians failing to recognise the skills required to look after young children," says Moreen Lyons, Australian Services Union child care officer who conducted the surveys.
"The ASU is deeply concerned at the high levels of work related injury reported by child care workers," said Ms Lyons. "The level of physical, mental and emotional strain experienced by child care workers is unacceptable." Fifty six percent reported back injuries; 77% said they suffered work related anxiety; 62% reported muscle strain and 85% said they had work related headaches.
Speaking at the launch of the surveys today Dr Helen Sutcliffe, Occupational Physician, Victorian Workers Health Centre at Trades Hall, confirmed that the child care sector was a "time bomb waiting to explode". These injuries are preventable and the situation is intolerable. Unless something is done, a valuable part of the community will be devastated.
The survey of workers conducted in metropolitan and regional areas, found they were prepared to take industrial action to improve their deteriorating working conditions. 80% said they were prepared to go on strike and 70% said they would impose working bans.
ACTU President Sharan Burrow told the survey launch at Coventry Street Child Care Centre, South Melbourne that child care was shaping up to be an election issue given the number of families trying to balance work and family lives. The Federal Government has child care cut funding by $850 million since 1997. The occupational health problems together with the funding crisis in child care was "absolutely shameful," said Ms Burrow. "It is an Australian story that has to be told. John Howard stands condemned on child care and the politicians who address the resource issue will win votes at the next election."
The ASU surveys also found:
- 68% of respondents worked unpaid overtime.
- 89% believe their pay does not adequately reflect their skill and expertise.
-100% said improved wages and conditions would make child care a more attractive career option.
- the number of low-income families accessing child care has dropped 7% since 1998.
- 40% of centres said parents were giving up child care places because of the cost.
Note: The reports "Child Care workers in local government - occupational health and safety report, 2000" and "Victorian Local Government Child Care Survey, December 2000" are published by the ASU, 116-124 Queensbury Street, Carlton, 3053.The ASU represents the majority of child care workers in local government in Victoria.
Interview: Working Woman
Cheryl Kernot on women in the workplace, Labor's male culture and where Meg went wrong.
Activists: Honouring Our Heroes
Anna Stewart changed the lives of Australian working families by helping women achieve balance between the competing demands of work and family.
Women: The Future is Female
Julia Gillard outlines the campaign to increase female representation within the Australian Labor Party.
Unions: Sweatshops Ė Beyond 2001
FairWear convenor Debbie Carstens looks over a unique partnership between churches and unions to end exploitation in the textile industry.
Politics: The Battle for Bennelong
Many trade unionists are working to kick John Howard out of office. But only one woman has a chance of kicking him out of his own seat. Meet Nicole Campbell.
International: Border Skirmishes
Alana Kerr travelled to Thailand to observe first hand the battle to organise Burmese women workers in exile.
History: Inside the Ladies Lounge
The McDonald sisters run Trades Hall, and have for over half a century. The building canít speak about what has gone on in that time, but Lorna and Elaine probably know it all.
Satire: Taliban to Put One Nation Last
The Parliamentary fate of Pauline Hansonís One Nation party was further obscured today as key fellow right-wing extremists moved to distance themselves from the controversial Queensland politician and the group she founded and leads.
Review: Seven Steps to Slavation
Jenny Macklin details the seven barriers that stand between women and a better working life.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005