QTU members' newsflash No. 01-21, 8 January 2021 | DOWNLOAD PDF
Industrial Court says QTU has an arguable appeal case
We know that we said we would not interrupt your summer holidays this year but…
In a hearing on 22 December 2020, the Industrial Court agreed that the Queensland Teachers’ Union (QTU) had an arguable case in its appeal against orders made by the Industrial Relations Commission on 8 December concerning the QTU’s ban on NAPLAN.
The Union’s appeal will be heard on 21 January 2021.
In the meantime, the Court ordered that the Union provide a copy of its orders of 22 December and the Commission’s orders of 8 December to QTU members, and halted proceedings against the QTU for non-compliance with the 8 December orders until further orders are made by the Court.
Copies of the orders are available here. The full interim decision of the Court from the hearing on 22 December has not yet been published.
A successful appeal will likely mean that the Commission orders of 8 December will cease to exist.
The NAPLAN 2020 story
The QTU was to conduct a ballot in early 2020 to ban the 2020 NAPLAN test. This was decided after years of frustration with the impacts of NAPLAN on teacher work and workload and student learning, agreements to minimise the negative impacts of NAPLAN like the Joint Statement on NAPLAN (October 2018) which were only patchily and grudgingly implemented by the department, and the highly critical review of NAPLAN conducted by the Queensland Government itself in 2018.
At the QTU Conference in June 2019, 250 elected delegates from around the state had decided to conduct a ballot if by the start of 2020 the review/s had not recommended NAPLAN’s abolition.
November Council 2019 deferred the ballot to see what would emerge early in the New Year.
In late February, the QTU Executive unanimously recommended to Council that the ballot proceed (see newsflash 03-20). The 120 members of the State Council voted unanimously on 7 March to recommend the boycott of NAPLAN and to proceed with a ballot that was due to conclude on 27 March (see newsflash 04-20).
Then, the COVID-19 pandemic intervened and NAPLAN for 2020 was cancelled – a decision testament to NAPLAN’s relative importance in providing education to Australian students.
In June, the Queensland government legislated to override enterprise bargaining agreements with its employees, including teachers, to defer pay increases. The QTU opposed the pay deferral and continues to. It was industrially, morally and economically wrong. It took roughly $100 million from the pay packets of Queensland teachers.
Only when the QTU threatened to ballot for a strike in response did the government offer any consolation.
On 14 July, the Queensland government offered a package of “actions to be undertaken during the remainder of the 2020 school year” including finishing school two days early, reviews to reduce workload around the Curriculum Assessment and Reporting Framework (CARF) and school accountability, continuity for temporary teachers AND:
“NAPLAN - in recognising that changes to NAPLAN require consensus of the Education Council, the Government will continue to advocate strongly for the replacement of NAPLAN in its current form and move to a more effective and contemporary national assessment that is directed to system accountability purposes” (See newsflash 31-20 and Letter from Minister Grace Grace).
In late August, the “tri-state review” of NAPLAN commissioned by the Queensland Government and others was released to great disappointment. The review was hobbled from the start by terms of reference that assumed the continuation of NAPLAN. Even then it was ignored by the Federal Government and the Education Council on 4 September without even a mention. Whatever advocacy the Queensland Government had made, it had failed to change anything.
In September, based on precautionary decisions of the QTU State Council on 22 August, the QTU reinitiated its ballot to boycott NAPLAN. The case against NAPLAN including a brief critique of the “tri-state review” and information from the AEU’s annual State of Our Schools survey concerning NAPLAN can be found in newsflash 41-20.
The ballot was carried with more than 94 per cent of the members voting (over 8000) supporting the ban. In accordance with that result, QTU Executive issued the directive to cease all activities associated with NAPLAN to all members on 7 October (See newsflash 43-20). The Newsflash included the commitment from the Deputy Premier on behalf of the ALP in the lead up to the state election on 31 October that a “re-elected Palaszczuk government will continue to strongly advocate for the replacement of NAPLAN with a world-class test that best serves Queensland students.”
On 20 November, the State of Queensland filed an industrial dispute notice in the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission (QIRC). The government that has twice promised the QTU and its members that it will advocate strongly for the replacement of NAPLAN was asking the QIRC to intervene to ensure that NAPLAN went ahead in 2021. (It is a matter of record that there is no mention of NAPLAN in either of the last two Education Council communiques of 4 September and 11 December.)
On 8 December, the QIRC issued orders for the QTU to lift its ban and not reinstitute it. The QTU appealed the decision on the basis of errors of law.
Natural Disaster Relief Fund
As in previous natural disasters, the QTU stands ready to help members who have suffered losses in the flooding currently affecting parts of North Queensland.
If you lost possessions as the result of flood damage at your principal place of residence, you can claim a relief payment of up to $1,000 from the QTU Natural Disaster Fund.
The payments are only available to those who were financial members at the time of the loss, with each application being individually assessed prior to payment.
Relief is not normally provided for damage incurred to vehicles, such as cars, caravans or motorbikes, and will also not be available for the repair of fencing, garages, sheds or to repair damage to outside areas, including gardens or paths, as these are normally covered by insurance.
Applications for QTU Natural Disaster Relief can be made via this online form.
Members can also apply by downloading a copy of this application form and sending it to the QTU, either by email email@example.com - Subject: Natural Disaster Relief, fax (07 3512 9050), or mail (PO Box 1750, Milton BC QLD 4064).
Our thoughts are with all Queenslanders who have been affected by these events.
Please note: Payment will be made upon assessment of application.
The Queensland Government has placed greater Brisbane into lockdown from 6:00pm tonight until 6:00pm Monday 11 January. This is the result of a known case having contact in the community over the past week.
The local government areas affected by this lockdown are Brisbane, Ipswich, Moreton Bay and Redlands.
More information about the lockdown can be found at the QTU website here.
The QTU will be working with the Queensland Government, the Department of Education and the Chief Health Officer to ensure that any potential impacts of the latest heath declarations to the start of the 2021 school year are managed and that staff and safety is prioritised.
Authorised by Kate Ruttiman, General Secretary, Queensland Teachers' Union
21 Graham Street, Milton, QLD, Australia, 4064