Monday, October 27, 2008

Agent S Childcare Staff Agency: Change of booking procedures

Today Agent S sent me off for a morning shift in the Ryde area. Initially when Agent S called, they said it was for a week booking. In the evening however, I checked with the centre that I was assigned. It was fortunate that I did, as according to the schedule that they had, it was only a four day booking, and not a full week booking.

Later in the evening however, one of the personnel from Agent S called to ask how my shift went today. I was definitely most SURPRISED.

Then she said that some changes were made now and it would be a day-to-day booking than a block booking. In my opinion, that might be better for us casuals so that childcare centres would not simply make a booking and cancel it. It is us casuals who have to take the bane of the cancellations, y'know?

Perhaps the Agent had a directive from above, or simply maybe they had a conference on the best booking procedures. Well, I'd definitely hope for the latter..

At least Agent S learnt something from here.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Casual Childcare Employee retaliation? >_<

I didn't work much this week. As an act of retaliation, I had wanted to pass over one of my agents but was dissuaded by my mother who did not think it was a wise course of action.

Anyways, as said in my other blog... if truth be known, I did end up working for them for one of the shifts this week, so I do have to take my word back. LOL.

Agent S called me to go for a shift at this centre near the CBD area. It turned out that one of the casuals from Agent S' firm was ill, so they had to get another casual! I never thought that could ever happen, but it did. Well, it did nearly happen to me early this year when I was first starting out as a casual, but now if I know that I am ill, I would not take an assignment as it just isn't worth it.

I thought that cases of centres cancelling their shifts would be less under Agent E, but it turns out that it did happen. The consultant was courteous enough to provide a lengthy explanation for the cancellation, and then sent me off on another shift elsewhere that morning. To add to the bonus, I did enjoy myself at that shift (North Strathfield), so yeah, I do look forward to going there again.^^

Another bonus to add to it was that one of the recruitment consultants in Agent E decided to call me to enquire if I was looking for a permanent position at one of the centres (which turned out to be the centre that had cancelled the shift I was supposed to go to).. she was asking if I wanted to continue being a casual, or pursue a permanent position. Oh well, at least I have the knowledge that they did consider if I wanted to put in an application for it. ^^

Monday, October 20, 2008

Politics & Economic Factors: Disadvantages of Casual Childcare Staff work

There are some things I must put into words here for the rest who may feel that being a relief staff is something to shout about. As a full time casual relief staff, it can sometimes be rather difficult in certain situations. This is more so if you are a qualified staff (3 year degree qualified Early Childhood Teacher in this case, that is).

To get a trained ECT into the centres, the pay for the candidate ranges from 27 to about 34 AUD/hour. For the childcare centres, this would cost even more, but I am not sure by how much. I am fortunate to have been contracted to two agencies, and from there, able to observe how the agencies operate.

With Agent S, I have observed that in many often times,the centres have made bookings and then cancel them. For the candidate, this is not good as these candidates have to make provisions to avail themselves for this booking timeframe. The difficult part comes when the agency has to inform the candidates that their booking has been cancelled.

In order to keep good relations with the agencies, the centres could sometimes come up with reasons (which may not be true), putting the blame on the candidates with the excuse that they have performed poorly. It may not be the real reason, but could be an economic factor, and it usually is.

I was at a centre where three of their permanent staff (qualified positions- the Director, the ECT) had resigned at the same time. If these staff had any compassion, they would not have chosen to do that to the poor centre, or the children at the centre. But it happened.

Now in retrospect, a mate mentioned that if that is the case, it is possible that that centre has a management problem, and the staff do not get along. In any case, I was much better than working in such a toxic environment, eventhough the centre is of supposedly high quality repute.

At another franchise childcare centre in North Sydney, the Director asked me to leave after half a day because there was an electricity outage on that day, and half the children had left. She repeated the same decision for another day. So her decision was made on a financial basis.

Yet another one was in Randwick area, where I had worked there for two days. On the third day, the administrator had come in. I believe she must have checked her records
for the number of enrolment of children for that day, and she must have contacted my agent to inform them that I was not required at the centre the next following day.

After a conference with a friend of mine who works as an contract engineer for IBM, he informs me that that seems to be a similar case for those in other fields but working for agents. Fortunately, this occurence has not happened too often with Agent E. In fact, not much.

However in the case of Agent S, it has happened that they called me the night before to go in for a shift, and then the next day, the Agent will call me to inform that the shift has been cancelled. It is rather exasperating and annoying because we have prepared to go for the shift, and then it has suddenly been cancelled.

Perhaps it could be that both agencies have different arrangements with the childcare centres, in that in the case of Agent S, the childcare centres could easily cancel their bookings, and in the case of Agent E, because the charges are much less, the centres can't as easily cancel their bookings, which could account for the consistency of work.

I have been fortunate to have been contracted to these two agents to be able to make these observations. Agent E which pays less, but provides more consistent work, and Agent S that pays much more but has less consistent work. In my opinion, I would rather go for the agency that pays less but provides more consistent work. They have very good customer service and support system for their candidates, in which there is communication between the consultants.

The consultants do not call when a candidate is out on a shift, but instead what they would do is to either send a text message to the candidate's mobile number informing them to call back during their break time, or call the centre up and transfer the call to the candidate. This shows that the consultants do know the whereabouts of their candidates, and in this way, provides a more sense of security as well as that makes it easier for the candidates to contact them when needed.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Childcare Work: Being paid "Makan Gaji Buta".

Makan Gaji Buta, is the malay term for when a staff is being paid for no work done at all....

My adventures continues from my return from Melbourne in the last two week. The integrated train-tram-bus transport of Melbourne is efficient. It had beautiful weather, which was still wintery cold although it's already Spring in Sydney, and we're starting DayLight Savings here in a matter of a few days! Why can't Sydney provide similar benefits to its residents? Hmmph!!

There hasn't been much to write since I left my long block weeks in Canterbury. This week, I was assigned to this centre in North Sydney. This area has in its vicinity, many childcare centres as many of the parents working in this area has need for it. The centre that I had been assigned to falls under a franchise, and to a class of 25 children with 3 staff.

Surprisingly, I really did not have much to do as everything had already been prepared in advance. The teacher who applied for leave had prepared the week's program for the entire week... so basically, I didn't have to do any writing of any sort at all! As what the Malaysians call it "makan gaji buta!", I got paid most to sit and look pretty there...

It wasn't my fault anyways. The staff there didn't need me to do much, stating reason s such as "I did not know the children well enough to do anything". I told my mother, and her insight to the situation was that perhaps because it was a franchise, that perhaps they had their own format of programming, so I should do just what I can to help.Strangely enough, my mother remarked that 25 children of 3-5 years with 3 staff may be too little. WHAT??? She must be kidding.

I would definitely like to contribute more, however, apart from just supervising the children in the toilet, in the play areas, some general duties like sweeping the floor, cleaning the table, and maybe doing some reading to them, there really was not much for me to do anyways.

Oh well, that goes to the life of Makan Gaji Buta. Yeah, and also to all our muslim readers out there, Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri!

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