Employer tables a position to ‘settle’ negotiations - employees’ legitimate claims and concerns ignored
Catholic sector employers have tabled a position in their words ‘to settle both employee and employer logs of claim’.
The position, tabled at the single bargaining unit (SBU) meetings this week, effectively rejects the claims made by employees but satisfies the employer ‘commitment’ to resolve negotiations by 30 June.
Rather than ‘resolve’ negotiations for a new collective agreement, the employers have only demonstrated a determination to push through a set of provisions which dismiss the legitimate claims of their employees and ignores the impact on the quality of education provided in Queensland Catholic schools.
Members will, in the new term, give consideration to relevant action to send a clear message to the employers that employee concerns cannot be dismissed and ignored.
Employers reject key claims
The employer position rejects key claims made by employees in this round of collective bargaining.
The employer position asks employees to accept a replacement agreement which:
•fails to provide them with comparability of wages to that of a major interstate Catholic employer, namely NSW Catholic Diocesan
•fails to respond to work intensification issues and the need to resource the expanding role of staff in schools
•suspends the allowance of ET6 employees at the whim of the employer on vaguely defined performance issues or breaches of code of conduct
•makes no commitment to the implementation of classifications and salary levels recognising Highly Accomplished Teachers (HAT) and Lead Teachers (LT) consistent with the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) professional standards
•rejects that ET5 should be an incremental step given the additional duties teachers are already undertaking
•denies wage justice for term time school officers by rejecting four weeks annual leave in line with the community standard and the conditions of their colleagues in other Catholic schools around the country.
Handful of claims accepted
Of the small number of employee claims that employers have agreed to, the most notable is their acceptance to increase compassionate leave from two days to three days per occasion. Other ‘concessions’ are matters of marginal benefit to employees but defined in terms that assists the employer nevertheless.
Unwillingness to listen to employee claims unacceptable
Employers have misconstrued the patience employees have had to date in these negotiations if they believe that their position will ‘resolve’ the positions under negotiation.
The reality is that employees cannot accept a position that ignores their legitimate concerns, places them at a financial disadvantage and fails to address real work issues in schools.
It is clear that the employers have not listened to employees.
The employers have not listened when it comes to the need for comparable wages with interstate counterparts.
The employers have not listened when it comes to addressing and recognising issues of work intensification in our schools.
The employers have not listened when it comes to the rejection of their attack on ET6.
The employers have not listened when it comes to ensuring wage justice for term time school officers.
The employers have not listened when it comes to provisions that would strengthen the quality of education in Queensland Catholic schools.
The employers need to be sent a clear message that their position and failure to listen to their employees is unacceptable.
Next steps: employee feedback sought early Term 3
It is appropriate for employees to have an opportunity to send a clear message to employers regarding the employer attitude and position.
Our union will conduct a full scale advisory ballot of employees in the first week of Term 3 to allow employees an opportunity to consider the employers (so called) ‘resolution’ and then consider further employee action in support of the employee claim.
The ballot will be accompanied by a set of explanatory materials and will enable employees to comment on the employer position.
Advice will be sought as to what Chapter actions should be undertaken in support of the employee position including consideration of a protected action ballot and a broader community campaign.