Instrumental music teachers' bulletin, February 2019
In this bulletin:
Statewide support for instrumental music teachers/instructors
The QTU knows that changes to work without consultation with employees and their unions adversely impacts on work-life balance. That is why the QTU was adamant that the replacement MOA had to contain the provision to establish a statewide Instrumental Music Reference Committee. Clause 12.2 of the replacement MOA agrees that employees should be consulted about decisions that may affect their employment conditions and/or workload, and that the IMRC will meet at least once per term.
The QTU has written to the Department of Education and called for the IMRC to be convened as a matter of urgency. The QTU proposed that the IMRC should have convened by Friday, 15 February to seek agreement between the parties on the terms and conditions of the IMRC. The QTU also proposed a second IMRC meeting prior to the autumn vacation to discuss parts 4-5 of the work-to-rule directive.
The Department of Education continues to show its contempt and lack of understanding of the work that instrumental music teachers/instructors perform every day in Queensland state schools. At the time of writing, the department has been silent on the matter of the IMRC. The department has neither acknowledged receipt of the QTU letter nor offered alternative dates to convene a meeting.
How did we arrive at the work-to-rule directive?
The irony of this current situation is that the QTU knows that instrumental music teachers/instructors are routinely working in excess of the agreed instruments. That is why the QTU had hoped that a replacement MOA would have included a provision for additional leave to compensate instrumental music teachers and instructors. The QTU provided models to the department during MOA negotiations in 2018. These were rejected by the department because, the QTU was told, the regional stakeholders had advised the department that no teachers are working in excess of the award provisions. The experience of employees in some regions, specifically concerns regarding camps, is a strong indication that the reports provided by regional stakeholders may have not been an accurate reflection of the daily lived experience of QTU members.
In essence, the work-to-rule is about recognising the importance of work-life balance.
What does work-to-rule mean?
A work-to-rule is an action undertaken by employees, often to draw attention to the imbalance in their working conditions. The current instrumental music teacher/instructor work-to-rule directive highlights the amount of additional work that is regularly being undertaken in Queensland state schools and that exceeds the agreed industrial instruments. An example is regional instrumental music camps that have previously rostered instrumental music teachers/instructors to attend such camps for more than five days per year.
I have been told the work-to-rule is voluntary. Is it?
If you are a member of the QTU, employed as an instrumental music teacher/instructor, you are directed to work-to-rule.
Members of the QTU participated in two ballots at the end of 2018, and overwhelmingly supported the work-to-rule directive in both ballots.
A common tactic that employers use to try to divide the power of a unified workforce is to spread mischief and misinformation.
Will I be disadvantaged by my RMC due to my participation in the work-to-rule?
Such implied threats are another common tactic that employers use to try to divide union members. The Industrial Relations Act (2016) addresses the matter of adverse action taken by an employer against an employee that discriminates between the employee and other employees of the employer. The act also deals with discrimination because of trade union activity.
Any QTU member employed as an instrumental music teacher/instructor who believes that an RMC is adversely acting or discriminating against them as a result of the member following the QTU directive should contact their local QTU Organiser or the QTU’s Milton office via firstname.lastname@example.org or call (07) 3512 9000.
The work-to-rule directive applies the provisions of the MOA, Certified Agreement and Teachers’ Award. The provisions contained in these agreements are the working conditions of employees. Changes to the working conditions of teachers, such as the additional work of instrumental music teachers/instructors in collecting and reporting QCE data, is an additional claim from the employer that was introduced without consultation with employees’ Union/s. In accordance with dispute resolution provisions, parties may seek the assistance of the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) in relation to a dispute arising from the application of the MOA, certified agreement, and/or teachers’ award. For example, subject to clause 12.2 of the MOA, the QTU may seek the assistance of the QIRC if the department fails to convene the IMRC before the autumn vacation.
What is rostered duty time/hours of work?
Rostered duty time is the number of hours per week that an employee can be timetabled to undertake duties in accordance with their agreed role description. Clause 15.2 of the teachers’ award sets out the rostered duty time and hours of work provisions for a full-time instrumental music teacher/instructor at 30 hours per week, which will be comprised of 25 hours per week of group instructional time and five hours per week of ensemble rehearsal time.
The work-to-rule is informed by clause 15.2 (d) of the teachers’ award, which states: “Rostered duty time will commence no earlier than 08:00 and conclude no later than 16:00. An instrumental music teacher/instructor will not be required to instruct for more than seven hours in any one day or commence duty more than once on any one day.”
Does this mean that I have to be at work between the hours 08:00 – 16:00?
No. You cannot be expected to be at work every day between the hours of 08:00 and 16:00. Such hours of work would mean that a full-time teacher, working five days per week, and 7¼ hours per day (remember there’s a 45 minute meal break) would be rostered to work 36¼ hours per week. The rostered duty time of an instrumental music teacher/instructor will be 30 hours per week.
What can’t my region do our instrumental music camp?
You can. The QTU has provided advice to members and officers of the department, reaffirming clause 15.2 (c) of the teachers’ award, that the maximum time spent on incidental duties, specifically music camp attendance, will be the equivalent of five days per year. The QTU advice has consistently been that there can be more than one camp and camps can be more than five days, however no one teacher can be rostered to work greater than 5 days.
Why do I have to take a 45-minute uninterrupted meal break?
Clause 16.2 of the teachers’ award states: “An instrumental music teacher/instructor will be entitled to an uninterrupted meal break of not less than 45 minutes to be taken between the fourth and sixth hour of duty which will not be considered as rostered duty time.” In circumstances where instrumental music teachers/instructors are rostered to conduct ensembles or continue providing instruction during a school’s timetabled lunch break, the teacher/instructor should be timetabled for their uninterrupted meal break at another time during the day that falls between the fourth and sixth hours of duty.
For example, in the circumstance where a school timetable includes a lunch break between 1:00pm and 1:45pm, an instrumental music teacher/instructor could be timetabled to take an uninterrupted meal break from 12:15pm.
Why does the work-to-rule direct instrumental music teachers and instructors to not provide A-E reporting?
Work-to-rule means that QTU members are directed to work in accordance with the industrial instruments like the Teaching in State Education Award – State 2016, as well as perform work in accordance with the policy and procedures of the employer. The Department of Education’s P-12 Curriculum and Assessment Reporting Framework identifies assessment and reporting, including providing A-E reporting, for students being taught Australian Curriculum (P-10) and QCAA senior syllabi. There is no requirement in the P-12 Curriculum and Assessment Reporting Framework for instrumental music teacher and instructors to provide A-E reporting.
In directing members to this specific part of the work-to-rule, the QTU recalls that the introduction of both the Australian Curriculum and new senior curriculum occurred through a consultative process. This resulted in additional resources being allocated to schools and teachers, namely time for the familiarisation, collegial planning, and trialling of units of work, and financial resources to purchase teaching and learning resources.
Won’t I get in trouble for not providing A-E reporting?
The QTU will act on behalf of any member who is following the work-to-rule directive. In the first instance, members should contact their local QTU Organiser, and then contact the QTU’s Milton office via email at email@example.com or on (07) 3512 9000.
Can I get a school administration staff member or teacher aide to organise paperwork, instead of me?
Yes. The role description of an instrumental music teacher/instructor does not include recruiting students into a program. The Department of Education’s Instrumental Music Program Policy was published on the department’s website in October, 2018. It is worth noting that this policy was created without consultation with the Union/s, despite the QTU seeking consultation with the department 12 months earlier and expressing concern that the policy would impact on the working conditions of instrumental music teachers/instructors. The Instrumental Music Program Policy does not assign recruitment as part of an instrumental music teacher’s/instructor’s role.
What’s the difference between mandatory reporting and report cards?
The QTU has directed all members who are employed as instrumental music teacher/instructors to not provide reports on OneSchool that include parent contacts. However, employees will have completed mandatory training in code of conduct, student protection, workplace health and safety, and asbestos awareness. An employee has an obligation to report on matters related to this training.
Why can’t I do my Annual Teacher Performance Review with my regional music coordinator?
The Joint Statement on Annual Teacher Performance is a school-based process, not regional process. Pursuant to the agreed phases of the Annual Teacher Performance Review, teachers set goals that take into account the school strategic plan and priorities set by and for teams of teachers within the school (phase 1); and access to professional learning is negotiated based on the priorities and resources of the school (phase 2).
Moreover, while the QTU does not agree with the language used on the department’s website pertaining to “appraisal”, the department’s own Instrumental Music Program Policy assigns this task to base school principals.
Why can’t I participate in triads?
The Joint Statement on Collegial Engagement includes an acknowledgement by the department and the QTU that many schools successfully operate accepted models of collegial engagement based on agreed procedures, professional trust and mutual respect. There are schools throughout Queensland that have agreed, through the school’s local consultative committee (LCC), to support triads as a model of collegial engagement. However, such agreement should be reached at the local, school level. The joint statement does not provide for regional decrees.
The QTU believes that addressing this matter ought to be a priority of the Instrumental Music Reference Committee.
How long will the work-to-rule continue?
The QTU holds to the belief that parts 4-9 of the work-to-rule directive have arisen as workload matters resulting from the department’s pattern of behaviour in failing to consult with the Union/s on matters related to the work of instrumental music teachers and instructors.
That is why establishing the Instrumental Music Reference Committee in the replacement MOA is significant.
QTU has called on the department to urgently convene the Instrumental Music Reference Committee to deal with issues of workload and to resolve the directive.
That the department have not responded to the QTU’s call to convene the IMRC demonstrates the department’s contempt.
Why is the latest MOA missing parts?
The previous MOA was over a decade old. Some of the previous MOA clauses are now enshrined in the award, other clauses are outdated.
The QTU has long campaigned for measures that promote work-life balance and that address workload intensification. That is why QTU Executive carried a resolution congratulating QTU members employed as instrumental music teachers and instructors for the strong endorsement of the work-to-rule actions in term four of 2018. QTU members across the state understand the importance of the actions of instrumental music teachers and instructors and branches are carrying motions of support like:
THAT the ___________ Branch of the QTU expresses solidarity with QTU members employed as instrumental music teachers and instructors.
THAT the __________ Branch of the QTU congratulates QTU members employed as instrumental music teachers and instructors for their courage and unity in pursuing fair working conditions.
Branch meetings are open to all QTU members. To join the conversation and have your branch support instrumental music teachers and instructors’ work-to-rule, check out the dates and venues of your local meeting, which can be found on the QTU website at: https://www.qtu.asn.au/branch-meetings
Research Officer – Industrial Advocate
Authorised by Kate Ruttiman, General Secretary, Queensland Teachers' Union
21 Graham Street, Milton, QLD, Australia, 4064
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