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.

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