State Council report - 26 August 2017

Key issues discussed at State Council included the Staying Well strategy, marriage equality and NAPLAN Online.

Council moved a resolution of solidarity with the striking Brisbane City Council bus drivers in their endeavours to secure improvements to their salary and conditions, including better safety.

State Council affirmed the QTU’s involvement in the marriage equality campaign and moved a resolution for the QTU to withdraw its support for NAPLAN Online. As a consequence, members in schools currently participating in the readiness trials have been meeting to seek directives on a workplace basis to withdraw from the trial.

Other key decisions included the extension of the pilot regarding modified RAIS incentives and decisions regarding the federal school funding campaign.

Council also welcomed Tracy Davis MP, Queensland Opposition Spokesperson for Education, who recognised the importance of teachers and school leaders in the lives of the students they teach. At the conclusion of her address, Council members sought commitments from Ms Davis that she would not place principals on contracts and would recognise the QTU as the voice of the profession, asking her to ensure that she would work with the QTU and the profession should she become Minister for Education in any future state government.

QTU decision making

Questions have recently been raised regarding the QTU’s stance on a number of issues, including marriage equality and NAPLAN Online. It is important to understand that the QTU’s position on matters impacting on our members, including professional, industrial, legal and social issues, are determined through our democratic decision-making structures.

QTU positions on matters can be found in QTU Position Statements and Policies, as well as in resolutions of State Conference, State Council and the QTU Executive.

The supreme decision-making body of the QTU is the Biennial Conference, which was most recently held in June this year. Each branch has a conference delegate, who is subject to nomination and election through the Electoral Commission of Queensland. Branches are comprised of a number of workplaces in a geographic area, and each member at a workplace is a member of a branch and can attend branch meetings. Currently, there are more than 100 branches within the QTU.

At Conference, the Union’s direction for the next two years is established in the conference statement and QTU policies, both of which are accessible to members on the QTU website. Leading up to Conference, each branch is sent a copy of proposed amendments to policy, key issues that will be considered and any amendments to the QTU Constitution and Rules that may be proposed. Branches are also encouraged to raise matters for debate at Conference.

In addition to State Conference, the QTU holds a State Council meeting four times a year that makes resolutions regarding current issues and campaigns. Each branch and area council is represented at State Council. These decisions are made following consideration of reports provided by QTU Officers and in accordance with QTU policy. State Council also considers the QTU strategic plan and endorses the QTU strategic direction. Prior to each State Council, branches are forwarded the papers for the meeting, which identify the key matters for debate. State Council delegates have the responsibility to represent the views of the members from the branch in these debates.

In between State Council meetings, the QTU Executive - which is made up of the six Senior Officers of the Union, 12 school-based activists, one TAFE activist and one Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander member - is responsible for making decisions on QTU campaigns and activities. Executive meets every second Monday evening during each term. Executive resolutions are reported to State Council when it meets. The decisions of Executive are made in accordance with QTU policy. QTU policy can only be changed by a simple majority at State Conference or by a two-thirds majority at State Council. Decisions also need to be made in accordance with any relevant QTU rules.

If members wish to amend QTU policy or influence decisions of State Council and/or Conference then they are encouraged to do so by attending their local branch meetings and moving the appropriate resolutions to be brought forward by their local delegates at the relevant meeting. Additionally, members can nominate to be their local branch representative on either of the decision-making bodies. The State Council representative’s term of office is three years, while the State Conference representative’s term of office is two years. Nominations for these roles are called through the Journal.

The QTU is active in a wide range of policy areas, and from time to time some of our members will disagree with the actions we have taken or the policy position determined through the Union’s democratic decision-making processes. Despite these concerns, members continue to benefit from the legal, industrial and professional representation and protection the Union provides.

The QTU prides itself on being a democratic organisation. As such, members are vital in establishing the policies and strategic direction of the QTU. Members are encouraged to engage at their local level to ensure that their views are considered as we move forward to continue to grow and strengthen the QTU.

Kate Ruttiman                                                                                                                      Deputy General Secretary (Member Services)

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 122 No 7, 6 October 2017, p4