QTU Members' newsflash No.12-19, 15 July 2019
QTU State Conference recommends acceptance of Queensland Government EB offer
Late on Friday 28 June, following extensive negotiations, the Queensland Government presented a formal offer to QTU Senior Officers, who determined to accept the offer, in principle, and present it to QTU Executive. Following Executive’s consideration of the offer, it was resolved that the offer be accepted ‘in principle’ and recommended to the QTU State Conference for its consideration on Monday 1 July.
Delegates to the QTU’s State Conference closely considered the offer, both in terms of potential benefits for individual members and the profession as a whole, and on Wednesday 3 July the QTU State Conference resolved to:
- accept the government’s EB offer in principle
- recommend its acceptance to QTU members
- defer the strike planned for 18 July 2019.
Consequently, over the next three weeks QTU Workplace Representatives will ballot members on whether they are willing to accept the government’s offer.
What is State Conference?
The State Conference of the QTU is held every two years and is the supreme decision-making body of the Union. It is responsible for setting the policy and direction of the Union. State Conference is comprised of more than 250 delegates from across the state – teachers and school leaders elected by members in branches and area councils. More than 90 per cent of Conference delegates voted to support the recommendations, including recommending acceptance of the government’s offer.
Why does the Conference recommend acceptance of the offer?
The offer addresses the four key priorities of the QTU’s EB claim, as established by QTU members during the development of the claim. Conference was also advised that negotiations have been exhausted and the offer also provides significant gains in other areas.
1. Classification review
- Increased salaries and new classifications for principals and other promotional positions. The new salaries (of at least 10 per cent over the agreement) will mean that Queensland’s principals will be among the highest paid state school principals in the country.
- A new 10 level structure, with every principal receiving a salary higher than lead teacher by the end of the agreement.
- Executive principals returning to the classification scale and receiving a salary in the final year of the agreement of $211 398 p.a.
- Parity for heads of department and heads of curriculum and for deputy principals across sectors.
- Removal of the lowest step in each band, meaning that progression through each band takes three years rather than five.
- A new Workload Advisory Council will be set up to monitor issues and recommend workload reduction opportunities. The Council will have equal Union and department representation and will operate from DoE Central Office. Following submissions from members it will consider issues impacting on workload from a system, regional and workplace level. An initial focus will be implementing the new SATE process and instrumental music teacher/instructor workload. The Council will respond to issues with the development of policies, joint statements, and memoranda of agreement.
- Inclusion of a specific workload management clause in the agreement.
- An additional 30 minutes non-contact time for primary and special school teachers in 2022 (this represents the first adjustment to NCT in 25 years).
- A guaranteed additional 60 minutes of non-contact time for beginning teachers (first-year) in primary and special schools and 70 minutes non-contact time for teachers in secondary schools from the commencement of the 2021 school year.
- An additional day of TRS for senior secondary teachers in 2020 to assist in the implementation of SATE.
- The removal of the student free days from the Easter holidays and a one-day reduction in flexible student free day hours from the 2020 school year.
3. Gender employment equity
- The removal of the requirement to work the equivalent of FTE hours to access salary increments/progression for all part-time employees from January 2020.
- Redefinition of parental leave (the old maternity leave) as primary care giver leave so that relevant entitlements are accessible to the primary care-giver regardless of gender or relationship status.
- The development of a joint statement to contain the current arrangement and access to extended special leave for family purposes (currently seven years unpaid leave), to ensure it is contained in an industrial agreement.
- Minimum salary increases of 2.5 per cent per annum, commencing 1 July 2019.
- The creation of an additional EST pay point from January 2022, accessible after three years as an EST. This represents an additional 1.6 per cent increase for ESTs during the life of the agreement, resulting in a per annum salary of $110,500 by the end of the agreement for more than 80 per cent of teachers on EST.
- Principals in single teacher schools will receive a salary higher than lead teacher, with the top step of the new principal level 1 receiving $121,975 p.a. in 2019 and moving to $130,172 p.a. by the end of the agreement.
- Executive principals will return to the classification scale, receiving a superannuable salary in the final year of the agreement of $211 398 p.a.
- A one-off payment of $1,250 (pro-rata for part-time) to all employees in stream one of the classification structure (classroom teaching), including HAT and LT.
- Date of salary increases secured at 1 July.
The offer also includes a number of other improvements to conditions, including release time for LCC members to undertake some of their duties, conversion to permanent employment after two years of temporary engagements, the potential to introduce a new RAIS, and funded release time to allow health and safety representatives to undertake their duties.
What happens if members accept the offer?
If members accept the offer, a draft agreement will be finalised and the department will commence the process of getting it certified (including another ballot). The deferred strike action will not proceed.
Once certified, salary increases will be paid to members (back dated to 1 July 2019) and implementation of the other conditions contained in the offer can commence.
I really like parts of the offer. Can’t we accept those parts we like and take industrial action to get more?
The offer is a package. It cannot be accepted in part. If it is rejected and members determine to proceed to strike, the offer in its entirety will be removed by the government. Given that the offer was made after prolonged negotiations had exhausted all discussion, it is unlikely that the government will provide a revised offer.
What happens if members reject the offer?
If members reject the offer, industrial action will proceed, the government will rescind the offer and, as negotiations are exhausted, will likely ask for the assistance of the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC) in resolving the negotiations through arbitration. This is a lengthy process. This means QTU members will lose the salaries and conditions contained in the offer, including the salary increase date of 1 July.
If the offer is rejected, then the QTU and the department will enter into a conciliation process at the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission. This is a minimum period of three months. The government has made it clear that if the offer is rejected, all matters presented in the offer will be dealt with in conciliation and arbitration. This has certainly been the approach of the government when dealing with the current core arbitration. In addition, the 1 July date will be lost, affecting approximately 30 per cent of the membership who are on defined benefits.
When in arbitration, the Commission must also take into account factors such as record low wage growth measured by the wages price index, “like” certified agreements, the consumer price index, record low inflation, and the cost of any claims the QTU seeks, in addition to the salary increase. Given the matters currently in the Commission, it is unlikely that the QTU and the department would start arbitration before 2020, with a decision likely in the second half of 2020.
What was the timing around the protected industrial action ballot?
Under the law, the QTU could not take protected action prior to the end of the current agreement. As this fell during the school holidays, it was important for the Union to complete the ballot and advise of any potential action prior to that date. The protected industrial action ballot was conducted in the last weeks of term and the strike directive issued to provide time for parents and schools to prepare for the potential strike at the commencement of term 3.
When the ballot for strike action was conducted and the directive to the strike was issued, there was no formal offer by the government. It was only during the ballot and once the outcome was known that the negotiations intensified. The offer was made by the Minister as a consequence of members’ willingness to take action.
In all communication with members, including the ballot question, the Union was clear that the strike would proceed unless an acceptable offer that addressed the four key priorities was made.
It is the assessment of the vast majority of State Conference delegates that the offer is acceptable and addresses the four key priorities. State Conference recommends members accept this offer.
What happens now?
QTU representatives in workplaces will conduct a ballot of members over the next three weeks to determine whether members accept the government’s offer.
The ballot will open on Monday 15 July and close on Friday 2 August. Executive will consider the outcome of the ballot at its meeting on 5 August.
The strike action scheduled for 18 July has been deferred pending the outcome of the ballot.
Members are encouraged to familiarise themselves with the offer and the reasons why the QTU Senior Officers, Executive and Conference recommend the acceptance of the offer. More information, including videos, can be found on the QTU website.
EB9 information sessions and special branch and area meetings will also be held over the coming weeks. More information can be found on the QTU website.
Union Representatives and school leaders will receive advice later today outlining the process for the workplace ballots and the deferral of the strike action.
Workload: QTU no. 1 priority
The QTU State Conference has decided that the reduction of workload in a sustained way is the top priority of the Union for the two years until the 2021 Conference.
It is clear that excessive and increasing workload cannot be addressed through enterprise bargaining negotiations alone, but needs to be addressed at multiple levels: national, state, regional, school and personal.
The Union has already written to the department to fast-track the implementation of the Workload Advisory Council as a mechanism to identify the causes of and solutions to excessive workload.
Conference delegates also developed and adopted a series of resolutions about workload associated with SATE implementation.
Authorised by Kate Ruttiman, General Secretary, Queensland Teachers' Union
21 Graham Street, Milton, QLD, Australia, 4064