4 August 2016

Government makes an improved offer

As reported in Newsflash No. 21-16, the state government has made an improved enterprise bargaining offer to the QTU.  The normal processes apply with regard to whether the offer is accepted, however the QTU Executive believes it proposes significant gains that members should accept.

This special Principals Update specifically addresses the contents of the offer with regard to promotional positions, and is being sent to all QTU members in those positions.

Review of promotional position classification structure

The most significant outcome for school leaders and heads of program from the final negotiations is a commitment to a review of the classification structure for promotional positions and the incorporation of the outcomes of the review in future certified agreements:

The parties commit to conducting a review of the classification structure of promotional positions (taking into account school complexity and the impact of needs-based funding/staffing) to be completed no later than 31 December 2018. Outcomes of this review will inform the basis of negotiations for a future certified agreement.

Amongst other factors, the review will take account of the impact of the establishment of highly accomplished and lead teacher classification and their work value assessment.

It is important to note that initially the only proposal was for the 2.5 per cent p.a. salary increase.  The additional commitment was not easily extracted from the government, which was concerned about future costs, and it was its final concession in the negotiations.

The current classification structure for promotional positions has been in place for more than 25 years.  The review will stop the “band aid” fixes that are applied to school leader classifications and enable a true assessment of the work of school leaders and heads of program. The review will take into account school complexity and the impact of needs-based funding and staffing – something that JEMS is meant to incorporate but has failed to reflect as schools and communities have evolved and changed.

A review of the classification structures cannot be accomplished in the course of enterprise bargaining negotiations.  It took four years in the late 1980s and early 1990s to develop the current structure.  Hence, the importance of this clause.

There is no doubt that the review will result in significant deserved increases for promotional positions.

In spite of the additional increases that were paid to school leaders and heads of programs in previous agreements (2010, 2006 and 2000), Queensland salaries are below some other states.  This is due to multiple factors, including incentives for contract employment, reviewed classification structures and the incorporation of superannuation into packages in some states.  

For genuine salary outcomes, the review must also take into account the outcome of the work value assessment that will determine the remuneration level of the highly accomplished teacher and lead teacher classifications that will be available to eligible classroom teachers from 1 January 2019.

To ensure that the review is comprehensive, the QTU intends to commence consultation with members in early 2017 and work with DET in mid-2017 to establish the review team and terms of reference.

Salary increase:

Under the offer, the salary increase for school leaders and heads of programs will be 2.5 per cent per annum.

The QTU argued for an additional 1 per cent increase for promotional positions as a down-payment for review outcomes in the final negotiations.  However, the government would not move from the government wages policy.  

The offer secures a 1 July start date, which is significant for defined benefit superannuants, especially those considering retirement.  This was lost as a result of delay by the Newman government in the last round of EB.  Its restoration was planned over 12 months ago and has now been achieved.

Gains for school leaders

Other gains for school leaders in the EB are:

  • the inclusion of teaching principal administration time, incorporating the increases being introduced from 2017 as a consequence of the additional 875 teachers 
  • the inclusion of non-contact time entitlements for HODs, HOCs and HOSES 
  • increased CCT for primary and special schools, again as a consequence of the additional 875 teachers
  • changes to the broad banding process that will enable school leaders to access a second-tier of broad banding within a school
  • HOSES Stream 2, Level 4 (Band 7) to be recognised as deputy principals special education
  • a new level of executive principal that is appointed for special purposes which are not enrolment driven (principals appointed under this proposal will have reversionary rights to their substantive classification upon the completion of these appointments)
  • a clear outline of consultation and matters to be discussed at the LCC to assist in addressing workload issues
  • improvements to the relocation and transfer system.

It is important to recognise that the agreement rejects contracts for principals, despite the federal government agenda to require school principals to be placed on contracts and undertake national certification before undertaking (or retaining) the role of principal.

What happens if the offer is rejected?

If members reject the agreement, the alternative will be that the industrial action members have supported will proceed and the government will in all probability refer the claims to be arbitrated.  The final negotiations occurred at the highest levels of government and this offer was approved by the Cabinet Budget Review Committee.  Further negotiations are very, very unlikely.

Under industrial legislation, this would mean a loss of the 1 July increase date.  Additionally, the QIRC would not be able to order an interim salary increase.  An outcome would not be likely before 2017.

In arbitration, the QTU would be required to mount arguments for the 4.5 per cent salary increase against the 2.5 per cent salary offered by the government - the review of the classification structure and a true work value assessment would not form part of the arbitration.

The process from here

The QTU will conduct a workplace ballot of members regarding their acceptance or rejection of the offer.  The QTU Executive – 14 school-based members and five senior officers – recommend that the offer be accepted.  

If the offer is accepted, the agreement will be certified following a government ballot.

The QTU will provide members with further updates as they become available.  Some detailed documents have now been posted to the QTU website.

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