A hard won agreement

The enterprise bargaining agreement that members have overwhelmingly endorsed in a QTU ballot was hard won in the most difficult circumstances

The retention of the overwhelming majority of conditions in the agreement, in spite of the government’s determination to remove them, is a victory. Not the biggest victory we will ever have, perhaps, but rarely will the situation be as it has been this year. It is a victory, and you are to be congratulated.

Tribute must be paid to the members who supported rallies outside Parliament House in Brisbane and around the state; the Union Reps in schools who conducted three school-based ballots—to reject the initial government offer, to endorse industrial action, and then to accept the revised offer; and the members around the state who overwhelmingly rejected the demand to trade-off conditions in return for a pay rise and campaigned for a fair outcome. 

Tribute also to the principals and school communities who followed QTU advice not to nominate for the Independent Public Schools program until a series of guarantees could be negotiated. That support was absolutely critical in securing the memorandum of agreement on independent public schools and the retention of school-based management guarantees in the certified agreement.

As I wrote my previous editorial, negotiations were still proceeding and plans were being laid for a strike and work bans at the start of term four. It is remarkable how quickly the negotiations came to an agreement, but that was the result of four months of concerted effort by QTU members and QTU negotiators determined to change the government’s position. In the end, the last concession of the government was the retention of the class size targets in the certified agreement. To preserve a condition that has been part of enterprise bargaining agreements since 1997 is a significant achievement in itself.

As I write, the department’s electronic ballot is being completed by QTU members across the state. If that is supported as the QTU ballot was, it will very nearly bring to a close the enterprise bargaining campaign. But other campaigns have already emerged to take their place, a brief summary of which can be found on page 12 of this Journal. The same determination which was shown in the enterprise bargaining campaign will be required again, but as then, we will eventually prevail.

In this last Journal of 2012, I also want to acknowledge a number of retirements from the QTU Officer ranks, as well as one from the department.

Three QTU Officers begin pre-retirement leave at the end of this year. Jim Sykes has been an Assistant Secretary Services/Welfare since 1984. His previous rural and remote service equipped him well for his long-time role around teacher accommodation, but he has contributed so much more to the internal operations of the QTU and member services. He retires as the elected chair of Union Shopper, among other roles.

Louise Comino retires having been the first Gold Coast Regional Organiser between 1990 and 2006 and then Industrial/Services Officer to the present. In this role she has had particular responsibility for TAFE industrial relations, but also the review of the teacher transfer policy and transfer appeals. Class sizes have remained an abiding passion.

Greg Purches was the inaugural stand-alone Wide Bay Regional Organiser in 1996, and became an acting Deputy General Secretary in October last year. Greg is highly respected in his “home” region and has brought a wealth of experience to his current role, which involves supervising and coordinating organisers across the state.

In addition, Lesley McFarlane AM retired earlier this year after being QTU Research Officer since 1984, specialising in curriculum, teacher education and women teachers and girls’ education.

Finally, I want to acknowledge the unexpected retirement of Julie Grantham as Director-General. She was a true public servant, responsive to the government but honest in her advice. She never forgot her background as a teacher and principal in what she did. The QTU and she fought where we had to and cooperated where we could. One hopes that her replacement has the same capabilities.

Graham Moloney


Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 117 No 8, 21 November 2012, p5