Another Labor scam: promoting unionisation in childcare

This really is outrageous – for the Labor government to allocate $300 million to top up the pay of childcare workers only if the childcare centres had entered into enterprise agreements, while encouraging (insisting) workers to join the United Voice union (misleading information galore).

Moreover, Labor knew full well that this sum of money would not be sufficient to go around … good one, Kate … and that one of its favourite operators, Goodstart (the not-for-profit that picked up the remnants of Eddie Groves’ childcare empire at rock bottom prices and is run by do-gooder ex-Macquarie bankers) applied 48 minutes after bids were officially open.  And was awarded $132 million of the $300 million – gosh, that sounds fair.

And note that this operator has been a vocal backer of the National Quality Framework (and Labor, more generally) and on insisting that the ridiculous conditions apply  to all  operators lest its centres become uncompetitive.

Here’s the story, with the latest development a plea by the Childcare Minister, Sussan Ley, asking for the centres that have been awarded funds to return them … in her dream, I’m thinking.

THE allocation of Labor’s $300 million fund for wage rises for childcare workers was deeply unfair and the sector’s peak union used it to boost its membership, an independent report has found.

The PricewaterhouseCoopers Australia report, to be released today, also finds that the wage increases that were promised did not fulfil the main objective of helping childcare centres meet the demands of the Gillard government’s national quality framework, which requires centres to have more qualified staff.

The Early Years Quality Fund “does not target funds to wage pressures related to the increased qualification requirements”, PwC concludes.

“Funding wage increases for unqualified staff and non-contact staff does not support the objective of the EYQF to increase the number of qualified educators.”

The report, commissioned by the Abbott government immediately after winning office, says a large proportion of the providers given conditional offers of funding identified that they were already meeting the new quality framework requirements.

“This outcome highlights that the EYQF did not effectively target services that were struggling to meet the NQF qualification requirements,” the report says. “The fund also required centres to negotiate an enterprise agreement in order to access the money.”

The report says that, prior to the announcement of the $300m fund, there were approximately 100 enterprise agreements in the sector; by the end of October, there were more than 400.

“There is evidence that the requirement to have an enterprise agreement was used by United Voice to increase its membership,” it says.

“The Department (of Education) advises that it monitored all media streams relevant to the EYQF and that the Big Steps Facebook page made several statements that staff needed to join the union in order to be eligible for funding under the EYQF.”

The report cites a “consistent message that stakeholders believed some of the behaviour of United Voice representatives during this time was inappropriate”.

“The majority of peak bodies reported that union delegates were using the EYQF as an opportunity to increase membership and pressured staff into feeling they were letting down their colleagues if they did not join the union,” it says.

The report finds that the policy for applications to be processed in the order in which they were received until the $300m funding cap was reached placed pressure on the sector and rewarded providers that had the ability to dedicate resources to the application process from the point at which the guidelines were released. At the same time, it disadvantaged smaller providers who required time and extra support to understand the guidelines before deciding whether or not to apply.

The report notes that applications opened at 11am on July 23. The nation’s biggest childcare provider, Goodstart Early Learning, submitted an application that was received at 11.48am that day and was almost 5000 pages long.

The amount it applied for was $132m, representing 88.1 per cent of the larger provider allocation and 44.5 per cent of total funding.

Twelve funding agreements were executed on September 6, and Goodstart was one of them which means it will keep the money it won because the government has promised to honour signed contracts.

Goodstart was represented on the EYQF advisory board. The day before applications opened the Goodstart representative offered to resign from the board due to a perception of a conflict of interest. The report did not find there was a conflict of interest with industry representatives being on the advisory body.

The report finds that the fund favoured large providers with 50 per cent allocated to large providers that represent 19 per cent of the sector and 50 per cent to smaller providers that represent 81 per cent of the sector.

Assistant Minister for Education Sussan Ley said she commissioned the report after members of the child care sector raised concerns that the Gillard government’s fund was a front for an aggressive union membership drive. “It’s clear all Labor has achieved with this fund is boosting union membership and driving a clear pay-divide through the child care industry,” Ms Ley said.

“Labor certainly can’t claim their policy was about pay equity and raising education standards when 70 per cent of long day care workers couldn’t receive a dollar of the $300m.

“That’s why the government is . . . reviewing Labor’s flawed and inequitable policy.

“This is also a perfect example of why Labor should have left pay rises to the Fair Work Commission; it’s the whole reason we have an independent umpire.”

Ms Ley reaffirmed the Coalition would honour funds contracted from the EYQF, with all remaining funding to be retained in the child care portfolio.

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33 Responses to Another Labor scam: promoting unionisation in childcare

  1. .

    This really is outrageous – for the Labor government to allocate $300 million to top up the pay of childcare workers only if the childcare centres had entered into enterprise agreements, while encouraging (insisting) workers to join the United Voice union (misleading information galore).

    Just like the superannuation ponzi used to fund the ALP.

    What a scam. On the moral level of racketeering.

  2. H B Bear

    The unions and their Gillard-ALP puppet government could really teach those African despots a bit about looting Treasuries.

    Once they work out how to crack the AEC it will be all over.

  3. Kruddler

    Reading the unbiased Age report might lead you into thinking that the Coalition were/are heartless bastards ‘demanding’ childcare workers hand back their measly wage rises nobly granted by the ALP. But of course the Age is Independent…always.

  4. johanna

    Sussan Ley is a very smart cookie, and I hope that she gets promoted soon. I saw her in Question Time last week – she eviscerated the Opposition with style, panache and lots of substance.

    Of course, she does have the advantage of having had real jobs before becoming a politician.

  5. gabrianga

    Watched Minister Ley, all guns blasting, during question time today. No nonsense, hard working lady ,who must be on the promotion ladder.

  6. Ant

    It’s getting harder to distinguish the Labor Party in government from a drove of pigs.

  7. Gab

    Pigs are intelligent creatures.

  8. Petros

    Any progress on making the unions accountable like companies are?

  9. They have done exactly the same with the aged-care sector, resulting in a lot more providers under pressure to make ends meet.

  10. Andrew

    Sussan Ley is a Palestine lover but other than that she was excellent in Question time and will do a good job on Childcare. She is well across the ministry.

  11. wazsah

    The Unions-ALP money two way pipeline – merry-go-round is a national corruption that must be fully exposed and eradicated.

  12. .

    I wish she was employed elsewhere to help the audit or rebuild the military.

    Her portfolio really shouldn’t exist.

  13. M Ryutin

    The key hypocrisy is that for all the ALP hand-over-the-heart ‘care’ for the professional development and salaries of ‘Our Dear Child Care Workers’, they couldn’t care less about any of them unless they are in a union.

    And I agree entirely, Minister Ley is a ministerial star in the making. Luckily she is able to shine immediately because of the former minster, the woeful and incompetent Kate Ellis.

  14. Johno

    Any progress on making the unions accountable like companies are?

    This is the Abbott government. Is there any progress on anything worthwhile other than trying to stop deaths at sea?

  15. JonSan

    @ H B Bear #1105178: I think they have cracked the AEC already. I have just received a $20 fine from the AEC for failing to vote. As if I’d have missed the opportunity to vote the previous mob out of office. The worrying thing though is if they managed to lose the voters roll, what did they do to the ballots I filled in?

  16. Carpe Jugulum

    Mugabe is taking notes, not even he could think up such a scam.

    What is the relationship between Goodstart & the alp?

  17. DrBeauGan

    This is flagrant corruption. And like some shit who runs off with stolen handbags, the ALP thinks it’s been smart to get away with it. And Tony Abbott wants to be mates with them, when he should be denouncing them. We are truly phuct.

  18. wazsah

    Imagine if the RGR Govt had survived to launch a full blown Gonski. No wonder the Edu Unions were spending money on media adverts.
    It is interesting too that the Wilson Blewitt Gillard AWU scam can easily be seen as an illegitimate imitation of parallel schemes from the WA Govt.
    It would pay the Abbott Govt to view any transactions with unions as if you were sending a toddler out with handfuls of raw meat to feed a starving wild tiger.

  19. Alain

    This industry should be substantially downsized and appropriate tax changes made to let parents look after children themselves. It makes more sense for a child to be looked after by mum or dad than some pseudo-university graduate in a sterile childcare centre environment.

  20. dd

    The solution is deregulation. Family day care is the obvious answer; these small operations (literally people set up a small day care facility in their own house – and take a small number of kids) are being driven out of business by increased regulation. Family day cares are cheaper, more informal, and some people actually prefer them because the child is in a ‘home’ rather than a ‘centre’.
    Imagine suggesting such an idea in our modern nanny state – just let people set up child care arrangmenents in their own houses. If they didn’t exist, the authorities wouldn’t believe it was possible.

  21. dd

    Maybe I didn’t make this clear: the commonwealth is making life harder and harder for these small operators to stay open.

  22. Leon

    This was well publicised at the time.
    The coalition said nothing.
    There was no debate in the press by anyone about wasting our money.

    I don’t think the scheme should ever occurred.
    Better late than never I guess but there needs to be noise in real time when this is occurring not 18 months later.

  23. dd

    It’s just one more story that the journalist class treat as if invisible.

  24. Boambee John

    “Twelve funding agreements were executed on September 6″

    How did this happen? 6 September was in the caretaker period? perhaps the ALP hack or the public servant who signed the contracts should be held liable for the costs?

  25. Robert O.

    Seriously what else do you expect from a Labor/Green government apart from more regulation, unionisation and bureaucracy which is why we had to borrow so much money! Can’t let small enterprises get ahead.

  26. Mick Gold Coast QLD

    From Alain at 6:12 pm:

    “This industry should be substantially downsized and appropriate tax changes made to let parents look after children themselves. It makes more sense for a child to be looked after by mum or dad than some pseudo-university graduate in a sterile childcare centre environment.”

    I saw them occasionally as the grandchildren grew and I detested the soul-less places. They couldn’t have been more artificial, from the fake plastic grass to the scripted un-conversation conducted by the employees and operators. I wonder (without coming up with solutions) about the damage done to thousands of young who were force fed through this awful machine.

    When my lot were a year short of school we used a centre run by an unqualified woman of extraordinary ability, a couple of part timers and volunteer mothers. Us fellas built log fences and play apparatus, to the tune of barbeques and beer (on two or three occasions, to build major stuff, using Prisons Dept day release labour!) and a couple of us ran the finances and filled out about two forms a year for some supplemental gummint income.

    This unused building and land in church grounds was an integral part of our young families community, a place of fun and enjoyment and very real care. Modern laws would have us all jailed for dealing with the young without authorisation or competent supervision.

    From dd at 8:03 pm:

    “The solution is deregulation. Family day care is the obvious answer … – just let people set up child care arrangmenents in their own houses. If they didn’t exist, the authorities wouldn’t believe it was possible.”

    In QLD the day care centres all get to (are obliged to?) display a huge banner on the fence announcing they are “gummint approved.” That alone screams interference by experts.

    Informal, unregulated family day care was common when my four were young – in the late ’70s-early ’80s – but I imagine it has since been clothed by gummint in orange hi viz safety vests, disabled compliant toilet dimensions, multiple insurances, licensing (for a fee) and hourly performance reporting on line, much like the day care centres.

  27. Fred Lenin

    Hear hear Mick ! Our two were in the very capable hands of Lovely Women that our kids still respect and love one Lady died recently and both kids (now in their middle forties ) came home from a great distance at some expense to pay their respects they truly loved that Lady,these commercial “childcare” units seem to be money driven places full of unionised Socialist “workers” ,my advice is ,find a Lady who has reared her own kids and knows which end is up!

  28. Wage rises negotiated by a Union under an Enterprise Agreement also accrue to the non-Unionized workers. So you don’t get anything extra if you’re in the Union.

    The Credlin government has applied towback to the EQYF but its not about the money

  29. .

    Wage rises negotiated by a Union under an Enterprise Agreement also accrue to the non-Unionized workers. So you don’t get anything extra if you’re in the Union.

    Then why don’t let people have individual contracts?

    Lulz…

  30. Scotty

    It’s an appalling scam, but how was this reported in the MSM, and how did the gov communicate this…?

    Across the MSM this has been portrayed as the evil gov taking money from low paid child care workers before xmas…

    And the minister has done an appalling job of explaining why.

    The narrative has been again hijacked, with barely a wimper from the gov.

    This time seemingly worse than the GONEski announcement.

    The gov need to be much much clearer in building a digestible narrative around why these changes are necessary and to have clearly thought out answers to the questions that are inevitable from the rabid left.

    The swinging 10% of voters need clear simple easy to understand information to help them understand why these things are, and need to be done.

  31. Dan

    In QLD the day care centres all get to (are obliged to?) display a huge banner on the fence announcing they are “gummint approved.” That alone screams interference by experts.

    Mate, there is approved care and then there is registered care. Approved care means you get a bigger slice of your income tax returned compared to registered care. It’s all here in its convoluted madness

    Anyway. If it’s illegal for a CFMEU organizer to say ” you wanna work here, you need a ticket”. Then how is it not illegal for these United Voice people to tell child are workers that they need to join the union to receive some sort of monetary benefit.

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