No. 32-20, 20 July 2020 | DOWNLOAD PDF
To QTU Members
20 July 2020: Member ballot on pay deferral and government package now open
The QTU member ballot has now opened and closes on Friday 24 July. An email has been sent, to every financial member in the QTU’s school membership, with a link to the ballot to record your vote.
As always, the ballot is your opportunity to have a direct say in the Union’s decisions and a large voter turnout gives added strength to the result, publicly and with government.
There are two questions in the ballot:
- Do you oppose the government’s pay deferral?
- Do you accept the government’s proposals to address workload issues, including:
- An additional two days leave at the end of the 2020 school year
- A commitment to advocate for the replacement of NAPLAN
- A review of the Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Framework (CARF) during Term 3 which results in workload reduction from the commencement of Term 4
- The streamlining of data collection which will require a review of the school accountability regime during Term 3, with workload reduction from the commencement of Term 4
- Continuity of service for temporary employees to be unaffected by COVID-19?
After considering the government’s proposals at its meeting on 13 July, the QTU Executive recommends that you vote “YES” to both questions.
The COVID-19 pandemic means that this ballot is being conducted unlike any other in recent Union history. Electronic distribution and return of individual ballots; and member meetings last week conducted by Zoom rather than face-to-face.
The first question is really a member referendum, firstly, on the government decision to impose a pay deferral by legislation and secondly on the Union’s opposition to the pay deferral.
The Union has opposed the pay freeze/deferral throughout. The impression from the Zoom meetings last week was of continuing dissatisfaction and anger about the government decision. Over past months, individual members have also expressed support for the pay deferral on the basis of sharing the effects of COVID-19 with the broader community.
The ballot allows both groups of members to record a view that will certainly affect the future thinking of the QTU and should affect that of government.
However, neither the ballot, nor any action by QTU members will change the government’s decision or see them reverse the pay deferral.
The second question concerns the Union’s response to the pay deferral.
When the original decision to conduct a member ballot was made, the proposed response was a 24-hour strike and/or work bans to reduce workload unilaterally.
Then, increasingly aware of the teacher and principal anger about the pay deferral, the government approached the Union to begin the discussions that led to the government’s proposal.
The second ballot question, and the recommendation to accept the proposal, reflect the QTU Executive’s assessment of the best way to secure tangible benefits for members, particularly around the objective of workload reduction. The Union was cognisant not to set a precedent that would establish a trade off for conditions and the pay increase.
The proposal offers:
- negotiation and negotiated outcomes to reduce workload rather than bans,
- a timeline to achieve results
- incentive for the government to reduce workload before the state election on 31 October
- a fall-back of bans or other industrial action and electoral backlash if negotiations do not deliver enough.
Notably, many of the work bans that the Union would have suggested to members are in the very areas where the government now offers to negotiate workload reduction. These areas are those that member have identified as having a significant impact on workload.
The difference is the government proposal offers permanent reduction in workload within a specified timeframe whereas bans would be patchy in their implementation, difficult to sustain and subject to industrial challenge. Similarly, a 24-hour strike will not result in government reversing its decision to defer pay increases for the public sector.
The recommendation by Executive is an assessment of where best to apply the resources of the Union to achieve the best results for Union members over the next three months. Accepting the proposal is not accepting the pay deferral; it is deciding the best way forward from here.
Subject to the outcome of this ballot, Executive have also scheduled a progress review to coincide with the QTU State Council meeting to be held on 22 August. If progress to that point is inadequate or unlikely to produce results, Executive will recommend an alternative course from there.
All financial members with a valid email address should by now be in receipt of the ballot email.
Members with Hotmail accounts as their preferred email address may not receive the email. If you have not received the email please check your spam folder in the first instance. Any issues with the electronic ballot please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Workload Advisory Council (WAC) submissions remain open
The government proposal is only part of the collaboration on workload reduction with the QTU. Members are invited to provide suggestions on issues from the P-12 CARF and school accountability regime to the QTU, however, they should also include these in WAC submissions. Additionally, any other suggestions of areas impacting on workload and how this could be remediated should be forwarded to the WAC.
Throughout Queensland, QTU members are working with branches, area councils, special-interest-groups and other formal and informal organised groups to ensure the Department of Education understand the lived experience of workload in classrooms, staffrooms, schools and communities. Throughout the negotiations for a WAC submission process, the QTU was determined that the process must ensure respect and dignity for the teaching profession, as members tell their workload story and make recommendations.
Any QTU member can make a submission to the Workload Advisory Council. The QTU webpage has tools to assist members, including a Guide to making a WAC submission and a WAC exemplar. QTU officers can assist members to provide a submission to the WAC.
Submissions to the WAC close at midnight on Sunday 16 August.
Authorised by Kate Ruttiman, General Secretary, Queensland Teachers' Union
21 Graham Street, Milton, QLD, Australia, 4064