18 August 2016
[pdf version]

EB and the review of promotion classifications

A number of comments and questions have been made, in particular about the review of the promotional classification structure as part of the current government enterprise bargaining offer.  This update is being provided to all members in promotional positions to address, as far as is possible, the issues raised. A fifteen minute video presentation concerning this issue is also available.

The review

The agreement for a review of the promotional classification structure and salaries is a major achievement of the final negotiations with the government. It was the government’s last concession to reach an in-principle agreement.

A review of the structure is overdue. The current structure no longer reflects the levels of complexity in schools and communities that it was intended to, or the developments in roles and education in the 25 years since it was established.

A complete review of a classification structure is a complex process and could not be completed in the four months of negotiations around the proposed enterprise bargaining agreement. Twenty-five years ago, that process took three to four years. It has not been possible to get agreement to this sort of review in past enterprise bargaining agreements.

There is no doubt that those in promotional positions deserve significant salary increases. The best way to achieve those increases is through a review of the structure rather than through on-going tinkering and Band-Aids, as well as achieving a fairer structure. The best time for the establishment of the new structure and salaries is after the creation of the highly accomplished and lead teacher classifications.

That is what the revised government offer provides after the final negotiations.

The answers to the most common questions or comments to date about the review are below.

1.     What will be involved in the review of the promotional classification structure?

In the first instance, the review will look at a new basis for classifying principal positions.  Number of students will be one factor – when the current structure was created the largest school had 1,800 students.

Complexity is also a factor.  The current structure was supposed to take account of complexity, but no longer does so adequately.  The six Gonski loading factors of socio-economic status, indigeneity, non-English speaking background, disability, remoteness and school size provide a basis for classification – the question is workability.  Alternatively, can the JEMS be modified or another job evaluation system be adopted?  NSW has developed a system of classification which is worth examining, but it may not be ideal for Queensland.

Another question to be considered is the extent to which classifications depend on the historical distribution of resources to sectors.

Once a classification system has notionally been adopted, modelling is required to firstly identify any anomalies in the system, and secondly to look at grouping and banding of positions, and the thresholds for changes. In the early 1990s, this involved at least 10 models developed before one was finally agreed and adopted.

Another similar process is likely to be required for deputy principals and those in heads of program positions.  The question of the relativity between teaching principals and those positions is just one issue that will need to be addressed in the review.

Having established classification structures, the final step is establishing salaries for each classification.  This will occur either through negotiation with the department and government, or through a process in the Industrial Relations Commission.

There will be opportunities for member input and consideration throughout the process.

2.     Why can’t the review and pay increases be brought forward?

The government was not prepared to agree to a shorter timeframe that would create an unknown additional cost during the life of the agreement. Even a date as early as 31 December 2018 to complete the review, so that it could inform negotiations for a new agreement, was a matter of debate. Significant salary increases will result from the review, but they cannot be quantified. On grounds of both cost and uncertainty, the government was not prepared to agree to an earlier completion. The government was not even prepared to agree to the known cost of an additional percentage increase for promotional positions as a down-payment on the results of the review.

The creation of the highly accomplished and lead teacher classifications (also a matter of uncertainty) was a pre-election promise of the government. The government is honouring that commitment first, in line with its overall commitment to implement its promises. The agreement to review the promotional classification structure is a new commitment.

3.     What guarantee is there that the review will produce results?

There are two versions of this concern that have been expressed: one the possibility of a review without conclusion or result; the second related to possible outcomes of the next state election.

In relation to the first, there is a definite date for the completion of the review that the Union will insist is adhered to. The timeframe for the review is realistic and achievable, even though the creation of the current classification structure took three to four years. Members and the Union must have an expectation that the review will be completed and will produce results. The progress of the review and that expectation are important factors in ensuring that the review will not simply gather dust on a shelf.

A state election will occur before the review is completed. The QTU will seek commitments from all parties to the implementation of the outcomes of the review in the lead-up to the election. That, regrettably, is not a guarantee that implementation will occur. However, that is the expectation that must be conveyed. Failure to do so must lead, and be expected to lead, to action by QTU members.  The ALP government has committed to the review. Who else will do so remains to be seen.

4.     What about the relativities between classroom teachers and promotional positions; school leaders and heads of program?

Anything other than an across the board percentage increase disturbs salary relativities. The increase for experienced senior teacher disturbs relativities, as will salaries for highly accomplished and lead teachers. The review of the promotion classification structure will also inevitably disturb relativities, indeed one of its motivations is the need to address the inadequacies and inaccuracies of the current structure.

There is nothing sacrosanct or permanent about a set of point-in-time relativities between positions and classifications. They have changed over time and will change again, as do the demands of teaching and the organisation of education.

There will be differing views about the relative merits of the claims of various groups of members, as there have been in the past. The past relativities will inevitably change and new relativities be established.  It is better in the end that some get $10 and some get $15, rather than everyone getting $5. The Union’s objective will be to get as much as it can, for as many as it can, in as fair a new structure as it can create. The final classification structure will not be perfect but will be an improvement.

Salary scale

The salary scales for promotional positions under the government offer are published on the QTU website, along with a range of other EB documents.

Considering the offer

The QTU is currently conducting a school-based ballot of members to consider the revised government offer.  The QTU State Council, the Executive and the Senior Officers of the QTU recommend that this offer be accepted.

If it is not accepted, the 1 July date of commencement will be lost, a decision will likely be made by arbitration in 2017 and any review of the classification structures is unlikely.  The alternative to agreement is explained in greater detail in the Frequently Asked Questions on the QTU website.

Any questions concerning the offer can be forwarded to qtu@qtu.asn.au

 Authorised by Graham Moloney, General Secretary, Queensland Teachers' Union