It’s OK to ask for more!
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 124 No 4, 31 May 2019, page no. 16
During EB campaigns, we hear a lot of statements like: “I’m not worried about salary, I’ll be happy if you do something about …”. Why does this become the refrain?
Let’s break down what the statement “it’s not about salaries” really says.
It says that we are okay with salaries that lag behind those of our interstate (and in some cases intersectoral) colleagues.
Are we as teachers acquiescing to a perception that we should only be concerned about conditions because they impact on the students we teach and that we shouldn’t focus on salaries because that’s about us? Or is it because we already have to battle for the respect our profession deserves, and we don’t want to add to that lack of respect by appearing greedy?
Whatever the reason, it is important to know that it’s okay to ask for a fair pay rise!
EB is about two things – improvements to working conditions and achieving a salary aligned to the value of your role. Our refrain should be “I’m worth improved conditions and I’m worth an improved salary”. If we forgo salary increases for conditions, we are saying to the employer that the value it places on the contribution you make, i.e. your salary, is already enough.
If we accept the government’s wages policy of a 2.5 per cent salary increase per annum, we are accepting that this is all teachers and education leaders are worth.
Applied to an EST salary, a 2.5 per cent increase would mean that, in 2019, a Queensland teacher would earn $103,525pa, in 2020 - $106,113 and in 2021 - $108,766.
With the same increase, a beginning teacher would earn in 2019 - $71,833, in 2020 - $73,628, and in 2021 - $75,470.
Currently, Queensland’s salary for a beginning teacher is the third highest in the country (behind the Northern Territory and Western Australia). However, with projected increases in Victoria and New South Wales it can be anticipated that this position will not last. The Queensland EST salary is the third lowest in the country – just ahead of South Australia and Tasmania.
At a time when Queensland is facing a pending teacher shortage, it seems ironic that the wages policy (an increase level that has remained stagnant for four years) is all that the government is willing to invest in teachers.
Education is changing, teaching is changing, society’s expectations and the government’s expectations of teachers are changing. The QTU recognises that some of this change is reflected in the establishment of highly accomplished and lead teacher, but is this really enough?
The state government cannot say it values everything you do and celebrate our world class teachers and school leaders but remain unwilling to provide anything other than a salary increase locked in the past.
The state government needs to change the government wages policy, or make an improved salary offer that at least makes our salaries comparable to those of our interstate colleagues, to truly demonstrate the value it places on the contributions QTU members make to Queensland’s future.