EB7 – we're ready to go!

On 25 November, the QTU sent letters to the Director General of the Department of Education and Training, the Premier, the Deputy Premier and the Minister for Education and Industrial Relations stating that the QTU is ready to start negotiations around a new certified agreement.

The outcome of these negotiations will have a massive impact on QTU members’ conditions and wages. But how does the process work?

The procedure that has to be followed is set by legislative requirements and rules based on long-standing practice recognised by both practitioners and the courts.   If followed correctly, these processes will result in a certified agreement, a written agreement which sets the working conditions and wages for a specific group of employees, in our case, teachers and principals.  For the agreement to be legally binding, however, it must be approved by the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC).

During the period of negotiations, the Industrial Relations Act 1999 obliges both the department and the QTU to bargain in good faith.  This includes:

  • showing good faith during the bargaining process and genuinely striving for an agreement
  • adhering to agreed timelines for reporting to the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission on the progress of negotiations
  • behaving in a reasonable manner during the process of bargaining.

The good faith bargaining aspects of the act are strengthened by a number of previous decisions of the QIRC, including “QNU v Friendly Society Private Hospital, Bundaberg (2005)”, in which the commission held that good faith bargaining required that the parties make bona fide, reasonable and meaningful attempts to finalise a replacement agreement.

The QTU has now entered into the bargaining period with the department, and as such is in the process of outlining bargaining procedures and processes, including that both parties should agree:

  • to meet at reasonable times proposed by the other party
  • to attend meetings that they had agreed to attend
  • to comply with negotiation procedures agreed to by both parties
  • not to add or withdraw items for negotiation capriciously.

Significantly, the QTU is able to commence negotiations with the department immediately, because we have already canvassed the views and opinions of teachers in relation to conditions and wages.

This means we will immediately be able to outline our main areas of focus for the proposed certified agreement and set a bargaining framework for the major areas for negotiation.  It also helps us determine which issues are likely to be the most contentious in the negotiations and therefore develop methods to address this, both within the negotiations and, just as importantly, outside of the negotiations arena, with campaign-based strategies.

Your QTU bargaining team stands ready to begin negotiations on your behalf.

Thalia Edmonds
Industrial Advocate

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 117 No 1, 17 February 2012, p21