QTU members' newsflash No. 27-20, 19 June2020 | DOWNLOAD PDF
To QTU Members
On Wednesday(17/6/20) the Queensland government legislated to override the 1 July 2020 salary increases in enterprise bargaining agreements covering teachers and principals in schools and TAFE educators.
The 1 July 2020 increases are deferred until 1 July 2021. Increases that were due to be paid on 1 July 2021 will be deferred until 1 January 2022.
This means that state school teachers and principals will be paid less than originally agreed for 18 months out of the three year agreement, and 18 months out of four years for TAFE educators.
The QTU has estimated that this will cost teachers and principals in schools at least $100 million over the life of the agreement. (An actual figure has been requested from the department but the request has not been answered).
The government has reportedly decided to protect the retirement benefits of members in the defined benefit superannuation scheme which would have been drastically affected for those retiring over the next two years. The QTU is seeking confirmation from the government that this is the case and details about how that will work. (N.B. the letter from the Minister referred to below provides confirmation of the government's commitment but not detail of the process.) (letter from Under Treasurer)
A deferral of increases is better than a pay freeze that removed pay increases altogether, and recognition of the impact on those retiring, which the QTU raised from the start, is just.
Teachers and the QTU will not go quietly
The QTU remains opposed to the deferral of agreed pay increases. To legislate to do so is unconscionable.
The deferral of pay increases is:
- morally wrong, because teachers have busted a gut during the pandemic
- industrially wrong, because the government is legislating to break agreements
- economically wrong, because it is reducing buying power in the economy during a recession.
We’ve tried reasoned negotiation about these issues through a long series of meetings that were confidential and couldn’t be reported to members. We’ve tried lobbying MPs when it seemed clear that the government was going to proceed and legislate.
Apparently teachers, principals and TAFE educators and the QTU were supposed to go quietly after the decision was made.
That won’t be happening! It never was going to happen.
QTU Newsflash 26-20 – outlined a member ballot on three questions:
- agreeing or opposing the pay deferral
- a 24-hour strike to protest the deferral
- action to start workload reduction.
With six days to go before the winter vacation, Executive and Senior Officers have decided on the following timelines:
- Now to 13 July – distribution of written and other materials about the options
- 13-20 July – virtual area meetings to discuss the issues and ballot options
- 20-25 July – an electronic member ballot on the three questions
If members supported strike action, it would probably be timed to coincide with Parliamentary sittings in the second week of August.
Feedback on pay freeze issues and the proposed ballot can be sent to the dedicated QTU email address email@example.com .
Workload reduction suggestions and other workload campaign ideas can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org .
On Wednesday the QTU received a letter from the LNP Leader of the Opposition, Deb Frecklington, and the Shadow Treasurer, Tim Mander, announcing that they had reversed their position and would no longer support the public sector wage freeze. Many members who participated in QTU lobbying received similar correspondence, a tribute to the effectiveness of member lobbying.
Yesterday, the Union received a letter from the Education Minister, Grace Grace, responding to the LNP letter. Both letters can be viewed on the QTU website.
Ultimately, the legislation was carried by 46 votes to 42 – the ALP and an Independent voting for, the LNP, the Katter Australia Party, the Greens, One Nation and one other against. Because of how the pay deferral was introduced to the Parliament, those voting against also voted against a portable long service leave scheme for the community services industry and improvements to workplace health and safety.
The QTU and many members will remember the actions of the Newman LNP government in overriding conditions in enterprise bargaining agreements by legislation.
Whether the change of approach by the LNP on the pay freeze is a “road to Damascus” conversion or a political ploy is something that can and should be judged in the lead-up to the state election on 31 October this year when the QTU will seek commitments from all political parties.
The Greens MP, Michael Berkman, on social media and in the Parliament stated that he supported the community services industry portable long service scheme, having worked in the industry, but had to vote against the bill to oppose the pay freeze.
Authorised by Kate Ruttiman, General Secretary, Queensland Teachers' Union
21 Graham Street, Milton, QLD, Australia, 4064