TAFE newsflash, 24 July 2020
To QTU Members
Pay rise deferral
As reported previously, on Wednesday 17 June the Queensland Government legislated to override the 1 July 2020 salary increases arising from enterprise bargaining agreements covering teachers and principals in schools and TAFE educators.
Initially proposed as a pay freeze, the state government revised this proposal and legislated to allow for agreements to be varied to disrupt the timing of increases in the salary schedules.
For QTU members, this means that while the salaries paid arising from the 1 July 2019 increases and restructure will continue to be paid in 2020, the salary and allowance increase scheduled for 1 July 2020 has been deferred to 1 January 2022.
The deferral does not delay the roll out of other improvements in conditions contained in the agreement and does not delay salary increments (annual progression) contained within the award.
The result is that TAFE educators will be paid less than agreed for 18 months out of the four years of the certified agreement.
The government has committed to protecting 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 has received written confirmation from the government of this arrangement but is seeking details of how it will work.
A deferral of increases is better than a pay freeze that would have removed pay increases altogether, and the recognition of the impact on those retiring, which the QTU raised from the start, is just.
Notwithstanding the more positive approaches to the Union in the schools sector, which saw the state government – through the Premier and the Education Minister – meeting with Senior Officers of the Union on 13 July, an initial discussion held with the Minister last week has not yet resulted in a proposal to address the concerns of TAFE employees.
The QTU has initiated and held a number of meetings with the Minister for Skills and Training regarding concerns for jobs and the impact of the pay rise deferral on TAFE Queensland employees. There have been positive discussions but there has been no conclusion reached regarding measures applicable to TAFE Queensland.
The federal government’s recent announcements regarding additional funding for training must be considered, but the pay rise deferral is still having an immediate effect on members’ incomes.
The QTU has raised issues such as job security (especially for members in the AMEP and SEE programs impacted by the COVID-19 travel restrictions), securing 70 per cent of public vocational education and training funding for TAFE and CQU as the public providers, other funding measures such as payment for actual delivery hours, and extension of programs to aid COVID-19 recovery available exclusively through TAFE and CQU.
Before the government’s schools proposal was received, the QTU established a series of Zoom meetings to brief members on the courses of action they could take in response to the state government’s legislated pay deferral. Meetings of TAFE members will be scheduled once a proposal has been received.
Why no strike or work bans?
Prior to the school holidays, the QTU established meetings to consider a ballot for industrial action. A strike and work bans were proposed when the government had put nothing “on the table” except a pay rise deferral; now it has made a proposal to schools members which is currently the subject of a ballot.
Some members have proposed a 24-hour strike as the best response to the pay deferral, which is why the strike question was included in the original planned ballot, to allow all members to have their say. Members need to be aware that a strike would serve no purpose other than protesting the changes to legislation. It would not change the outcome of the legislation.
The potential offering and acceptance of any package does not change the QTU’s view that the pay deferral, and the decision to impose it through legislative means, was wrong, remains wrong and will always be wrong.
The QTU anticipates an announcement will be made regarding measures to support the public provider of vocational education and training through the COVID-19 crisis. Upon receipt of a proposal, TAFE members will be balloted, as school members were, regarding acceptance or otherwise of the proposal.
Authorised by Kate Ruttiman, General Secretary, Queensland Teachers' Union
21 Graham Street, Milton, QLD, Australia, 4064