The pre-formation years
In 1915 the Labor Government of T.J. Ryan came to power in Queensland with a strong reform agenda and they did achieve considerable changes – especially in relation to the rights of employees.
The Industrial Arbitration Act of 1916 introduced a conciliation and arbitration system with the judicial determination of wages through court awards and the impartial decision on disputes. The Act created a policing mechanism for awards by giving union officials the right to enter workplaces to interview employees and inspect employers’ time and wages books. It also protected workers from being dismissed for union activity.
By 1917 the Great War (WWI) was in its third year and there was no sign of its ending. Teachers’ conditions continued to decline. The Queensland Teachers' Union had gained registration in May 1917 and an Award which prescribed minimum employment conditions was achieved six months later.
The early years
The first iterations of our union, the Queensland Assistant Masters’ Association and the Queensland Assistant Mistresses’ Association, were born and entered the industrial world in the early twentieth century: The Masters in 1919 and the Mistresses in 1920.
In the 1930s Ruth George played the major role in re-establishing the universal award covering non-government assistant mistresses. During the depression, assistant school mistresses had been forced to accept pay reductions in their award.
Ruth George and her colleagues took on the challenge of restoring their salaries despite employer opposition. Her determination and commitment to this cause was crucial in overcoming the employers’ objections and opposition. In honour of Ruth George, our union presents an annual award in her name to an active school officer unionist.
But it was in the post WWII boom years that things started to change rapidly.
With the rapid growth of population in the 1950’s there was intense pressure on the education system, it was not uncommon to have class sizes of 80-90 in primary schools.
From the 1960’s onwards the Religious started to leave their orders in great numbers and so Catholic schools faced a crisis. There was a great need for secular teachers and many came over from the State sector giving up the benefits of working in the government sector such as Government superannuation. There was no superannuation scheme for teachers in non-government schools.
There were many aspects of working as a teacher that needed to be addressed:
- primary women teachers were paid less than their male counterparts;
- many women working in Catholic Schools were paid less under the “religious exemption” provision; and
- Catholic schools tended to have larger class sizes than state schools… to name a few.
The 1990s onwards
Our recent union history is one of dramatic membership growth, with our union's membership consistently increasing by 5-6 per cent each year. In 1994, our membership totalled 6,450 members, and just eight years later our membership reached 11,000 members—a 70 per cent increase.
In 2007 the Queensland and Northern Territory branches of the IEUA merged.
The NT division had recognised its limited resources in facing the introduction of the Howard government's 2006 industrial relation laws.
Both the branches overwhelmingly favoured the amalgamation—and IEUA-QNT was born. Read about our union structure here.
Our union continues to have a strong focus on campaigning in the best interests of all members. Bargaining campaigns such as the 2012 Queensland Catholic Schools Professional Respect campaign have proven to be successful in protecting and improving workplace conditions.
In 2015 IEUA-QNT has a growing membership of more than 17,000 teachers, aspiring teachers, school officers, early childhood teachers and assistants, and ELICOS and business college staff across Queensland and the Northern Territory.