QTU members' newsflash No. 01-20, 23 January 2020 | DOWNLOAD PDF
To QTU Members
In this issue: Reducing workload is priority #1 | Workload Advisory Council | State budget submission | QTU priorities 2020 | EB payments | Workers' comp on excursions | Supervising pre-service teachers' payments increased | Natural Disaster Relief Fund | Why QTU is best
Reducing workload is priority #1
The QTU Workload Survey, conducted for the QTU by the Australia Council of Educational Research (ACER) in late 2018, showed that:
- 53 per cent of teachers work up to 45 hours per week
- 22 per cent work 46–50 hours per week
- 25 per cent work more than 50 hours per week
- principals work 61.8 hours in a typical week.
Only about a quarter of teachers, heads of programs, and principals saw their workload as manageable. Even fewer said they had a good work-life balance.
The Conference decision is very clear: the Union’s objective is the reduction of workload, not building resilience or adapting to excessive workload. This is more than a red-tape exercise and will require systemic examination from top to bottom.
The joint Workload Advisory Council (WAC) contained in the 2019 enterprise bargaining (EB) agreement is being established. QTU Executive last year nominated four QTU representatives to the WAC for an initial period to June 2020. All are QTU Executive members who have been involved throughout the EB discussions and subsequently. The four representatives are:
- Dr Peter Darben, a science teacher at Cavendish Road State High School
- Beck Humphreys, a teacher at Barcaldine P-12 State School
- Kate Ruttiman, QTU Deputy General Secretary
- Andrew Thompson, principal of Redland District Special School.
The WAC’s role is to collect information about what is causing workload pressures and propose workload reduction initiatives. Submissions will be invited by the department in the first half of the year, preferably from groups of employees, e.g. school staff, a network of specialist teachers, a cluster of schools. The QTU will establish “interest groups” (for want of a better term) of members with similar roles to provide ideas to our WAC representatives.
Thinking about submissions – what contributes to your excess workload?
The 2018 QTU Workload Survey listed bureaucracy and the number of change initiatives as two of the top three pressures across all categories of members. Nearly 70 per cent of primary teachers and 50 per cent of secondary teachers said they were expected to deliver too much curriculum content. Nearly 50 per cent said their school’s pedagogical framework has added to their workload.
Only about a third of principals and deputy principals said they were able to spend a reasonable amount of time leading teaching and learning.
Over the past five years, a UK “Workload Challenge” has targeted:
- excessive planning
- data collection and entry
- excessive marking.
Which time wasters or low-value activities should be stopped?
Start making lists (with your colleagues) of what needs to be changed to reduce your workload.
The QTU has sent its annual budget submission for 2020-2021 to the Queensland government, and is in the process of sending it to all ninety-three MPs in the Queensland Parliament. The submission sets out a number of priorities for increased government education expenditure in the State Budget in May.
In a state election year, the QTU budget submission takes on greater significance. The priorities in the budget submission are also a claim on all political parties for the promise that they make for the next term of government, the first four-year term of a Queensland Parliament. The state election is scheduled for Saturday, 31 October this year.
Workload is #1, but there are many more priorities for 2020.
The QTU Council in November adopted a list of top-level priorities for the QTU for 2020. This gives an idea of the scope and breadth of claims that the QTU is pursuing on behalf of members, an agenda that only a union like the QTU can successfully pursue.
Not everything is included in this list of top-level priorities. You can, of course, access information and advice about your employment from QTAD, and QTU legal assistance for members remains unsurpassed.
The QTU has been taking up a number of complaints about EB payments, and particularly the “one-off payment” of $1,250 (or pro-rata). For two groups of employees, the department’s payroll advice has been inconsistent with the agreement:
- casual employees who worked more than 100 days through a mix of casual days and temporary engagements
- education officers special duties who are substantively classroom teachers.
The QTU is awaiting a department response to these issues.
Current pay scales are available here
On 15 January, the Queensland Industrial Court dismissed an appeal against a decision to refuse WorkCover to a teacher who was injured on a school excursion to Vanuatu. The original decision was made around the time of the QTU Union Reps Conference in March last year. While the teacher was a private school teacher, the QTU co-funded the appeal with the Independent Education Union (IEU Q&NT) because of the implications for all Queensland teachers.
The decision is troubling because some accidents would be covered while others would not, with no clarity about which is which.
The unions are considering further legal steps, and the QTU will be raising the issue with the department with a view to ensuring coverage for participants in school excursions.
In the meantime, if you agree to supervise a school excursion, make sure you have reviewed the planning and are personally satisfied with the arrangements.
(N.B. In 2019, the QTU opened 445 new legal files to assist members, at a cost to the end of November of over $1.2 million in legal fees alone. Details of the QTU legal scheme can be found here).
Persistence paid off on 4 December, when universities agreed to an almost 50 per cent increase in the rates for teachers supervising pre-service teachers.
After lengthy negotiations, the universities agreed to increase the rate from $21.05 per day to $30 per day in 2020, and $34 per day in 2021. The agreement only occurred because of a threat to boycott supervision (since suspended) by the QTU and IEU (Q&NT).
While the funding to universities for pre-service teacher supervision has increased over the years, there has been no mechanism to increase the rates for supervising teachers. The increases are an overdue recognition of the work of supervising teachers.
The QTU has operated a Natural Disaster Relief Fund for well over 30 years. In 2019, the fund provided support to members affected by the Townsville floods as well as those affected by fires at the end of the year.
The QTU will also be offering support to NSW and Victorian Teacher unions whose members have had more damage from bushfires.
Last year, an association, the Teachers Professional Association of Queensland (TPAQ), started touting itself to you as a provider of industrial services. Here is why the QTU is best:
- The QTU is a registered trade union, and has the authority to negotiate enterprise bargaining agreements, visit workplaces etc that goes with registration. The TPAQ is not a registered organisation.
- The QTU’s legal assistance scheme is unsurpassed, with a long-established relationship with lawyers expert in industrial and educational law.
- Only the QTU has the capacity to even attempt to address broad issues like workload, behaviour management, occupational violence, school funding, educational change etc – systemic issues that require systemic solutions.
- The QTU is a broadly-based democratic organisation with more than 47,000 members, a network of 2,700 volunteer Union Reps, and decision-making bodies made up of practising teachers and principals (see more about democracy in the QTU here). There is no more representative or influential voice of the teaching profession in Queensland.
- The QTU deals with the full range of professional and industrial issues affecting members as it always has, with a new and growing professional development arm, QuEST.
- The QTU has the organisational experience and knowledge that comes from 130 years of representing teachers and principals.
- The QTU has established well-developed systems for providing information and advice to members through the Queensland Teachers’ Assist Desk (QTAD) and communications (Queensland Teachers’ Journal, Newsflash, website and social media).
- The QTU has a presence across the state, with regional organisers based in Cairns, Townsville, Rockhampton, Maryborough, Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, Toowoomba and Springwood, as well as Brisbane.
- With more education policy decisions being made at a national level, the QTU’s collaboration with other state and territory teacher unions through the Australian Education Union gives QTU members a national (and international) voice.
- Collaboration with other state unions through the Queensland Council of Unions increases influence over state industrial and employment laws.
Authorised by Kate Ruttiman, General Secretary, Queensland Teachers' Union
21 Graham Street, Milton, QLD, Australia, 4064