22 April 2015 No. 06-15

Government moves on Award Stripping and Employment Security

With the election of a new state government earlier this year, the new government has taken action to remedy some of the changes to the Industrial Relations Act made by the former LNP government.

On 17 March 2015, the Palaszczuk Government suspended the award modernisation process until legislative amendments are in place to remove or amend award modernisation provisions and prohibitions on content in industrial instruments, allowing proper consideration of allowable material in awards.

The Newman Government introduced seven amendments to the Industrial Relations Act. These changes included significant changes to what could be included in Awards, Certified Agreements and Enterprise Bargaining [EB] claims (referred to as the award modernisation process). This process would have put a number of conditions at risk as it required Awards and Agreements to be stripped of conditions that fell under what the legislation deemed “non-allowable” matters. Nor could they be elements of the EB claim. The stripping of the Award and Agreement would have meant that the protections around class sizes, transfers, relocations, permanency, school based management guarantees, specialist teachers and union encouragement would no longer be offered by the Award and Agreement.

Employment security

On 10 April, the Government wrote to all public sector employees announcing the reintroduction of the Employment Security Policy. The purpose of this policy is to wind back changes made by the previous Government and provide certainty to all public sector employees. The result of this announcement will be the restoration of job security provisions in Awards and Agreements, commitments to consultation regarding organisational change and a commitment to permanent employment.

The release of this policy and the determination to suspend the award modernisation process is a clear indication by the Government of its commitment to act to protect working conditions.

Enterprise Bargaining

Another element of the legislation is that negotiations for a replacement certified agreement cannot commence until such time as the award is modernised. Given the suspension of award modernisation and the Government’s intention to review the Industrial Relations Act, the likelihood of this being completed by 1 July 2015 (when negotiations for a new agreement are due to commence) is slim.

On Monday 20 April 2015, QTU Executive considered a proposition to seek an interim pay increase from the Government and the continuation of the current Certified Agreement for a period of 10 months. The purpose of this proposal is to enable amendments to be made to the industrial relations legislation prior to the commencement of negotiations for a new Agreement.

The decision of QTU executive will enable the legislation to be amended before negotiations commence for a replacement Agreement. This means that protections in the current Award and Agreement can be maintained while the legislation is reviewed and before EB negotiations begin.

Should the Government accept the proposal of the QTU the Union will continue to work with the Department to address ongoing issues regarding workload pressures, and further develop key elements of the EB claim. The QTU will further consult members once the proposal is considered by Government.

Labour Day

Labour Day celebrations will take place state wide on the weekend of 2 and 3 May 2015.  Members are encouraged to join other Union members to celebrate Labour Day. Bring along the family as we celebrate being proud members of a Union that continues to fight to protect members’ working conditions and restore respect to the profession.

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Opportunity for QTU members to participate in national research project on sustainability

The Australian Education Union (AEU) is assisting the Australian Education for Sustainability Alliance (AESA) and the Australian Conservation Foundation (ACF) with a research project regarding the integration of sustainability into teaching practices in schools. QTU members, together with AEU members from other states and territories, have been invited to participate.

The primary objective of the survey is to evaluate the efficacy of a variety of online and offline resources designed to assist teachers with integrating sustainability into their teaching practices. Results from this survey will be used to assist the ACF with the development of suitable resources.

The survey will take less than 15 minutes to complete.

To take part in the survey, please click on the following link http://sgiz.mobi/s3/698-AEU/

We ask that you complete the survey as soon as you can and by no later than Friday 15 May 2015.

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