Saturday, 18 January 2020

Thieving Employers.

         If you know anything about your working class history you will be aware of all those long and hard struggles to wrestle some concessions from the employer class to improve our quality of life, The 8 hour day, the 40 hour week, paid holidays, sick pay etc.. They were long and hard struggles, and the progress was slow. Some people paid dearly in those struggle from being blacklisted by employers, arrested by the state and on occasions some paid with their life.
        A short period and people took these conditions as normal, only to find that bit by bit they were being dismantled by the employer class, all under the banner of efficiency, profit and the illusion of "freedom of choice". All these changes stripping away at workers conditions were always given the stamp of legitimacy by the state, the corporate bosses minders.
        From this we should all realise that conditions won from employers are not ours to keep, they will be taken back bit by bit by the employer class. Their battle for ever increasing profit and low production costs will always drive them to chip away at your conditions. This is done in various ways, today its methods include zero hours contracts, pushing workers to be "self employed" etc. freeing the employer from national insurance, holiday pay, etc. Also freeing the employer from any responsibility concerning the employee and their conditions.
        The only sure way to improve our working conditions on an ever improving scale, is to remove the employer, in other words bring down capitalism and its co-joined partner, the state.
       This extract may sound very familiar to lots of you, the total disregard by the employer, of the employee as a human being.
     WORKER: Well yes, my terms and conditions leave a lot to be desired. For example, I was on a contract for a maximum of 20 hours, but if I had no students I had no pay. So in reality because of the vagaries of the people we teach, who often have chaotic lifestyles, my hours could vary anywhere between 10 and 20 in a given week, so obviously my pay reflected this. Also we have to take leave around the school holidays. So effectively, because you can't earn enough annual leave to cover this amount you are without pay for around 8-10 weeks a year.
     AWSM: Is the pay good?
    WORKER: On paper it looks ok. I won't go into the exact figures, but it is $30+ an hour and seems generous. The reality however is very different. I get paid what is known as an inclusive rate. This means I get deductions for my holiday pay, which I know isn't that unusual, but also I have to pay the kiwisaver employer contributions out of my pay, which was a new thing for me and totally surprised me as I didn't even know that was a thing. Also we don't get paid for any time we spend preparing lessons or marking, and it is expected we are in the building at least half an hour before any class that we are teaching starts. Another thing that winds me up is once a month we are expected to attend staff meetings, without pay, that can drag on for over 2 hours, thanks to two managers who will talk and talk interminably about nothing much - of course they will be getting paid as they enjoy the luxury of 40 hour contracts.
      AWSM: In the previous question you said you were on a contract with a maximum of 20 hours, did this change?
      WORKER: Yes, at the end of Term 2 last year I was asked if I would like to take on a new course that involved 40 hours per week teaching. I accepted and they put me on a salaried contract which actually saw my pay drop by about $8 per hour. The course actually involved a lot more than 40 hours a week with gathering resources and marking, and of course, such is the lot of a salaried worker, you don't get overtime - but of course if you ever leave early then it is seen as theft of time. I got reprimanded once for leaving an hour early for a doctors appointment - this having worked for the previous 4 saturdays above my 40 hours to catch up with my workload.
      AWSM: Things like that must drive you mad?
     WORKER: Honestly, I have been in the workforce for a long time now and I have no expectation of being treated differently. I really don't think I have ever had a boss who I had any respect for and would treat you decently.
      AWSM: Are you still on that contract now?
    WORKER: No. As soon as my course finished they put me back on a 20 hour/Zero hour contract. Presumably so they don't have to pay me fully for public holidays. When I return at the beginning of next term I will be offered the 40 hour contract again.
      AWSM: How do your colleagues view their working conditions?
    WORKER: No-one really talks about it. I try and get others involved in conversations but they really don't want to rock the boat at all.
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