Catholic employers lack leadership to resolve negotiations
Employers spend $$$ for legal attack on members’ protected action; campaign continues in new year
Since the beginning of negotiations for a new collective agreement eight months ago, employees have been ready – ready with their log of claims and ready to resolve these negotiations.
For eight months of negotiations Queensland Catholic employers have failed. They have failed to be ready to respond to the employee log of claims. They have failed to understand and appropriately address employee claims when it comes to wage inequities and increasing workloads. They have failed to show the leadership needed to ensure the future of quality education in Queensland Catholic schools.
Instead of focusing their energies and resources on resolving these negotiations, the employers have spent tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees as they continue to seek to limit the protected action of members. At the same time, employers have maintained their rejection of four weeks paid annual leave for school officers and remain committed to poverty wages for certain boarding school staff. Nor have they spent their time and resources addressing the wage disparity for Queensland teachers compared with their interstate counterparts.
Lack of employer leadership evident at latest SBU
At the final SBU for 2015, held 1 December, the employer representatives reinforced a position which lacks the leadership necessary to resolve these negotiations.
The employers claim to have “moved” their position on a number of critical and substantive matters. This is simply not true. The facts are that Queensland Catholic employing authorities have:
- failed to provide any substantive measures to deal with employees’ workload levels.
- failed to recognise the decade long wage discount, instead putting forward a wage offer that would only reinforce this continued inequity for Queensland teachers.
- failed to put forward a proposal which addresses the poverty wages of employees in certain boarding schools.
- failed to show any respect for their term time employees by continuing their out of step rejection of wage justice for these employees by denying the provision of four (4) weeks paid annual leave in line with the community standard and the provisions of their counterparts in interstate Catholic schools.
Notably employer representatives have ‘no answer’ to the question of how long Queensland teachers must wait for comparable wages. Catholic employers are clearly very comfortable to continue for the long-term, the significant wage discount they enforce on employees.
More money wasted on legal challenges
A number of RI employers have joined their Diocesan counterparts in mounting a legal challenge to limit the protected action of members and their collective voice on these outstanding issues. The legal intervention is further evidence that the current bans are having a real effect in schools and employers are trying desperately to negate the impact of the bans. Members in protected action schools are to be congratulated for their collective strength in enforcing the bans.
Campaign continues in 2016
Members will not stand by as Queensland Catholic employing authorities’ lack of leadership drags out these negotiations. A further protected action ballot will take place early in the new year to allow members to consider escalating their protected action in support of their legitimate claims, including full day stoppages.
With the holidays approaching, members look forward to a well-deserved break. The campaign will resume in the new year. Catholic employing authorities need to show the leadership their staff and schools deserve and address the critical issues facing our schools. Staff are looking to their employer to demonstrate that employees are recognised, that their work is respected and that they are rewarded for their ongoing commitment and dedication to the quality of education in Queensland Catholic schools.