Music to his ears
Child care mogul Eddie Groves requires employees earning as little as $6 an hour to supply music for his centres from their home collections, Federal Parliament has heard. MP Michael Danby made the claim in Canberra, after congratulating Groves on his move up the Business Review Weekly (BRW) Rich List courtesy of a personal fortune estimated at $175 million. Groves' ABC Learning Centres actively oppose Work Value cases being run by the child care workers' union, the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers' Union (LHMU) in the ACT and Victoria in a bid to raise entry rates for child carers which are as low as $5.99 for teenagers, and $11.90 for adults. The ABC Learning Centres' stance is significant because it is the biggest for-profit operator in Australia with more than 300 childcare centres. "While I would like to congratulate Mr Groves for moving up to 131 on the BRW Rich List, ABC Centres refuse to hire sufficient cleaners, refuse to pay staff a decent wage and require staff to bring their own music to play to the children", Danby said. The MP for Melbourne Ports referred to a complaint he had received from an ABC Learning Centres employee who said she "couldn't afford to stay in the industry". "At ABC we do all the cleaning in the centre and are expected to tidy the outside areas as well", she wrote. "I believe that if a job includes several roles i.e. cleaning and child care, then maybe the award wage should reflect this. If ABC had to pay cleaners in each of its centres, it would cost hundreds of dollars, instead the childcare workers have to perform the role of cleaners to save Eddie more money. "Staff are also required to play music at certain times of the day, which is not supplied by ABC and only gets played if staff bring in their own music." Leading Liberal Party figures, including Jeff Kennett and Andrew Peacock, have been associated with the management of ABC Learning Centres. Last year, Groves donated $10,000 to the Queensland Liberal Party. Danby revealed Federal Treasurer Peter Costello had recently visited an ABC Learning Centre in Queensland. He called on Parliament to scrutinise government subsidies to Groves' operation, especially in light of his highly-publicised handouts to the Brisbane Bullets basketball team and the Brisbane Lions AFL side. Groves has begun legal action against the LHMU, alleging they portrayed him as greedy and mean.