Catholic employees table multi-faceted wage claim
The current wage and classification structures in Queensland Catholic schools are tired, inadequate and fail to recognise appropriately the work of teachers and other employees in schools. Nor can inequitable wage comparisons with teachers interstate be sustained.
A wage claim (subject to endorsement by Chapters) was tabled by employee representatives at the Religious Institute (RI) and Diocesan single bargaining unit (SBU) meetings held 12 and 13 May respectively.
The claim features five key aspects:
- Comparability of teacher rates to that of a major interstate Catholic employer.
- A general 3.25% per annum increase for teachers, school officers and services staff over three (3) years.
- A minimum wage increase of $31.00 per week for lower paid employees.
- Recognition of experienced teachers via an appropriate classification and wage levels.
- Introduction of highly accomplished teacher (HAT) and lead teacher (LT) classifications.
The impact of this claim for employees is outlined below and more fully explained in this fact sheet.
At the 12 and 13 May SBU meetings, employers yet again failed to provide a log of claims. Instead they responded to employees’ previously tabled claims with consistent and persistent disregard for the legitimacy of the employee claims which seek to address the expanding role and duties of employees, family responsibilities and the need for greater certainty in hours of duty and part-time arrangements.
A further briefing regarding the employers’ rejection of employees’ key claims will be sent to Chapters for consideration and action.
NSW Catholic comparator sought
Queensland teachers can no longer tolerate that they are paid considerably less than their colleagues employed by Catholic employers interstate. The general increase being sought would mean teachers in Queensland Catholic schools reach a known comparability in 2016 with a major interstate Catholic employer, namely NSW Catholic Diocesan employers.
3.25% increase for all employees
The general percentage increase sought for all employees is 3.25% per annum over three (3) years to 2017.
Minimum wage increase for lower paid employees
Consistent with established practice in Queensland Catholic agreements, employees seek a minimum wage increase of $31.00 per week to provide lower paid employees with recognition of increased living costs.
This is equivalent to a 3.25% increase to Level 3 Step 1 of the School Officer classification. Without a minimum wage increase, lower paid employees are disadvantaged as a general percentage wage rise does not provide a sufficient dollar increase to offset the impact of the increasing cost of living.
The amount is also in line with a recent submission from the Australian Catholic Council for Employment Relations to the Fair Work Commission review of increases to the minimum wage arguing for a $28.70 per week increase to the National Minimum Wage.
Appropriate access and wage levels for experienced teachers
(ET5 and ET6)
The employee claim recognises the expanding duties teachers are being directed to undertake. There is no longer credibility in the requirement at ET5 for an additional duty as teachers are already being required to do so much. ET5 should therefore be an incremental step. A specific wage increase of 3.75% in both 2015 and 2016 is necessary at ET5 for teachers to reach comparability with their NSW counterparts.
Access to ET6 should not require three years at ET5 and should be removed. Rather ET6 should be available after one (1) year at ET5. The ET6 classification should thus be a substantive salary with all other ET6 provisions remaining unaltered.
Introduction of highly accomplished teacher (HAT) and lead teacher (LT)
Employers are already implementing expectations as if the highly accomplished teacher (HAT) and lead teacher (LT) classification were in place. Employers have been doing so without commensurate wage levels reflecting the expectations and contribution of these experienced teachers. Consistent with the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) professional standards, classification levels and remuneration recognising HATs and LTs is sought. These classifications and salary levels must reflect the qualitative differences of these roles.
For HATs a salary level at $99 405 per annum in 2015 is appropriate. At the LT level, a salary rate at $104 867 per annum in 2015 is claimed. Both classifications would be subject to subsequent negotiated wage increases in 2016 and 2017.
Access to HAT and LT would be available to employees at ET3, ET4, ET5 and ET6 via a merit-based application process. No quota should be imposed on HAT or LT positions with an appointment term of five (5) years. These classifications should be portable within Queensland Catholic schools.
Consideration of claim for middle leaders and senior admin
With the introduction of the proposed HAT and LT classifications, this claim contemplates that middle leaders (ML) can access the ET6 classification and their middle leadership allowance would continue to be paid on top of their classified level.
Chapters will hold meetings to consider endorsement of the tabled employee wage claim.The claim sets out to achieve: comparability of teacher rates to that of a major interstate Catholic employer; a general wage increase for all employees; a minimum wage increase for lower paid employees; and the implementation of a classification structure which acknowledges the work and contribution of accomplished and experienced teachers.