EB10: As always, salaries remain a fundamental focus
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 127 No number 4, 3 June 2022, page no. 8-9
In the lead up to a replacement certified agreement, representatives of the QTU are meeting weekly with the department to discuss the QTU interests, as endorsed by delegates at State Council in November last year. One of those interests is to achieve salaries that would make QTU members some of the highest paid teachers and school leaders in Australia.
Members can be reassured that, as at every EB negotiation, the QTU’s points for discussion reflect the current fiscal context: in this case the rising rate of inflation and increases to the cost of living. The QTU will be monitoring inflation (as measured by the consumer price index, or CPI) very closely during EB10 negotiations with the Department of Education, which are due to conclude on 29 June.
The QTU believes that the Queensland Government’s current 2.5 per cent wages policy is insufficient to cover the adverse impacts of unprecedented events like a global pandemic, war in Ukraine, skyrocketing petrol and electricity prices, and the rising prices of staple food items from supermarkets. These increases, including most recently an increase to the cash rate impacting on home loans, have an impact on our members, their hip-pocket and their wellbeing.
As we know, enterprise bargaining has historically included much more than just a wage increase. Many members benefit from improvements in working conditions, for example permanency, improvements to the transfer system, non-contact time, and class sizes. Historically, members have campaigned for these gains and accepted previous offers accordingly.
Salaries, however, will always remain the fundamental focus of any EB negotiation. Each certified agreement from EB1 onwards (except for the 2012 certified agreement during the Newman years) achieved salaries significantly above the headline figure of the government wages policy.
Different cohorts at different times also achieved significant gains, well over and above the headline figure of the wages policy (for example those secured through the Promotional Positions Classification Review (PPCR) in 2019 and the creation of EST2).
The wage deferral in 2020 impacted every public servant across the state, not just teachers. The fact that it was a pay deferral and not a pay freeze did mean that salaries still ended up achieving the agreed increases by the end of the enterprise bargaining agreements – 30 June 2022 for schools and 30 June 2023 for TAFE. A pay deferral is fundamentally different to a pay freeze, which would simply abolish a pay increase. The impact of those 18 months of the pay deferral on teachers and principals represented more than $100 million less in employees' pockets.
The QTU’s current EB negotiations with the department are occurring at the same time as other public sector negotiations such as those in Health. We will be closely monitoring the outcomes of those negotiations, as at the time of writing, there has been no changes to the current government wage policy.
The QTU will also be referencing the pay levels achieved in other state EB negotiations, and those wins will be an important factor in the context of a nationwide teacher shortage, as we need to retain teachers and school leaders as well as attracting more from intrastate, interstate, and internationally to work in Queensland state schools.
At every meeting, the department is reminded of the number of weeks remaining until the certified agreement expires and the need for an offer by 30 June. At the time of publication, there are five weeks remaining to receive an offer.