Media Release

Tuesday 30 June, 2009

Time for Bligh to solve teacher pay crisis

More than 42,000 Queensland state school teachers and principals will hold a series of 24-hour strikes in July and August in support of their campaign for fair pay.

The action was endorsed today by delegates at the Queensland Teachers’ Union State Conference; the 250 delegates at the conference represent 116 QTU branches and area councils from throughout the state.

QTU members were balloted in June on their support for industrial action if the State Government continued to refuse to address the inequitable pay levels of Queensland teachers that are now among the lowest in Australia. More than 86 per cent of returned ballots were in favour of further action.
QTU President Steve Ryan said teachers realised that strike action seemed to be the only way to engage the government in the teacher pay debate.

“It was only after the announcement of the 19 May strike that any pay offer at all was put on the table by government negotiators, even though the former agreement had expired and negotiations had been taking place since November 2008,” Mr Ryan said.

“That offer barely saw Queensland teachers rising from their appallingly low pay level in the short-term; in the medium term, they would once again have plummeted to the bottom as teachers in other states, already paid more than those in Queensland, entered their own enterprise bargaining rounds.

Mr Ryan said Premier Anna Bligh’s short-sighted approach to the current and ever-changing economic situation would ultimately sacrifice the long-term economic and social gains associated with an investment in education.

 “Prime Minister Kevin Rudd gets it, saying ‘the Government has implemented an Education Revolution to drive long-term productivity growth through an increased investment in education’,” Mr Ryan said.

“Deputy Prime Minister and Federal Education Minister Julia Gillard gets it, saying ‘I see the global financial crisis as a reason for investing more in education, not as an excuse for investing less’.

 “Why doesn’t Queensland Premier Anna Bligh get it? If Queensland education professionals are not paid adequately for the job they do, the teaching profession will become increasingly unattractive.

 “Experienced teachers will leave the state and the profession; beginning teachers won’t stick with their chosen career; new recruits won’t come through to fill the teaching ranks.

“Queensland will lose its teachers, and the state cannot afford such a loss.”

Mr Ryan said QTU members would be sending delegations to MPs throughout the state over the next two weeks in the hope that their message would be heard and acted upon.

“The QTU’s position is, and has always been, clear in the matter of EB negotiations: the best result for our members would be a quick and fair one,” Mr Ryan said.

“However, if the State Government remains intransigent, our members will have no choice but to undertake strike action. Only once every three years do Queensland teachers have a chance to negotiate their pay levels, so the Premier must act now.”

Mr Ryan said workplaces would finalise their strike dates by 17 July, with tentative dates for the following regions:

Wednesday, 29 July – North Queensland, Darling Downs and South-west Queensland, Gold Coast
Thursday, 30 July – Central Queensland, Far North Queensland, Sunshine Coast, Wide Bay/Burnett
Wednesday, 5 August – Brisbane, Logan, Caboolture, Ipswich

Mr Ryan said affected students and parents would be notified in writing by QTU members, and the final details of strike action would be posted on the QTU website by Friday, 17 July.

“Given the government’s woeful handling of whether schools were open or shut on the day of the last strike on 19 May, the QTU strongly suggests the government takes the sensible course of action this time and advises parents that supervision on strike days cannot be guaranteed,” Mr Ryan said.

Protest event Wednesday, 1 July
QTU members will be staging a public protest outside the Executive Building, 100 George Street from 8.30am to 10.00am.


For more information contact:
Steve Ryan (President)
07 3512 9000
Nicole Mathieson (Media officer) 07 3512 9000 or 0400 500 393