Private child care operators oppose quality child care

Private child care operators did not plan for extra staff because because they expected their lobby groups to succeed yet again in preventing overdue reform. (SMH 3 Jan 2011) Under 2 years old have been looked after in groups of five per carer in NSW child care centres. At last the ratio will be 4:1 from 2011.

The child care workers union LHMU has long been in favor of the reform, as have parents and child care researchers. Privatised care means not only that individual owners have to make a profit, but that their lobby groups have organised to demand that governments make policy to ensure profitability also. Child care is not the only service with this problem – it’s the same in schools, vocational education, universities and health care. Unionists and service users can not afford to leave these private lobby groups unchallenged.

Neither can unions afford for public and private sector workers to undermine each others employment. Common policies for working conditions, such as the child to carer ratio in the child care sector – would help in many areas of education and health where there is now ‘competition’. The UNSW and Macquarie Uni NTEU campaigns for a limit on casual employment fit this bill. NSW Teachers Federation would do well to look to how private sector VET teachers can be supported to lift their conditions to match TAFE, rather than setting a target for governments to push down conditions and education quality to a bare minimum.

Quality and competition for profit are not a good fit, when every person deserves quality, but some people have more money to buy it.

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