Waiting for the instrumental music "bus of change"
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 127 No 7, 30 September 2022, page no. 22
Remember the turmoil in the late 1990s: the failed introduction of leading schools, the de-centralisation of the department workforce into districts, and the quick shuffling back into the current seven regions? What you might not have realised is that this restructure resulted in the shape of the regional workforce being designed differently in every region. Consequently, we not only lost centralised oversight of instrumental music, but many regions lost music coordinators.
For many years, our instrumental music teacher/instructor (IMT/I) members waited patiently for the reinstatement of these support provisions. As we waited, working conditions continued to decline.
However, six years ago, a plan to start action was initiated, and the fight for change began. Initially, this commenced with educating our IM comrades about working conditions. In the early stages, many meetings were held with interested members and QTU officers to gather information, share concerns and build collective knowledge within our dispersed statewide workforce. Eventually, we realised the best way to reach, inform and hear our IMT/I members statewide was a closed Facebook group, which was formed in July 2016.
In the past six years, through the mechanisms of the Union, a grassroots advocacy campaign radiated statewide across rank-and-file members, resulting in the establishment of an Instrumental Music Special Interest Group (IMSIG). With the support of our Regional Organisers and officers, IMT/I members organised and proudly took ownership of driving their advocacy bus.
The first stage of collective empowered change was the statewide Instrumental Music Work to Rule, followed by the first memoranda of agreement (MOA) update in 13 years and the negotiation of a second IM MOA (2022) within the life of the 2019 certified agreement.
One of the big wins in the 2019 and 2022 IM MOAs was the establishment of a statewide consultation mechanism for instrumental music, the Instrumental Music Reference Committee (IMRC). For the first time in 17 years, IM had a consultative mechanism to ensure that “employees should be consulted about decisions that may affect their employment conditions and/or workload”. The department also recognised “that meaningful consultation with affected employees leads to improved organisational outcomes”.
Here are some of the other wins that the QTU has been successful in achieving in the 2022 IM MOA.
- An additional rest pause for every three hours worked.
- Grouping of classes in accordance with DoE’s Inclusive Education Policy.
- The ability to adjust start and finish times to ensure members are supported for hours taught.
- An explicit statement that employees are to work for seven consecutive hours, removing the possibility of split shifts.
- A commitment to engage with all relevant stakeholders to ensure the removal of barriers to IM teachers being eligible for full teacher registration (currently, all IM teachers have been placed on Return to Teach RTT).
- Support for IM instructors to upgrade their qualifications.
- Inclusion of a motor vehicle allowance.
- From here, we will:
- continue to drive our IM advocacy through Union mechanisms, including statewide representation on the Instrumental Music Special Interest Group (IMSIG) and Instrumental Music Reference Committee (IMRC).
- continue to advocate for RTT to be removed from IM Teachers QCT registration.
- advocate for renegotiation of the IM MOA before the review of the allocative model.
- include IM member workload concerns in the allocative model review process
- maximise outcomes for IM members in EB11
- continue to ensure that QTU Curriculum Policy is updated to affect future positive changes for IMT/Is, to build on the addition of instrumental music at the 2021 QTU State Conference.
Throughout our QTU instrumental music journey, members’ advocacy has continued to go from strength to strength. Our IMT/Is are more aware than ever before that the way to have a voice and to influence positive change is to make use of all levels of the democratic structure that is the amazing Queensland Teachers’ Union. We are proudly doing that!