Catholic employer wage position leaves employees lagging behind
Employers can afford wage justice - Chapters reaffirm wage claim for comparability with NSW Catholic
Catholic employing authorities have rejected the employee wage claim and instead tabled an offer of 2.2% with no minimum dollar wage increase for the lower paid and no preparedness to meet comparable teacher wage rates in NSW Catholic Diocesan schools.
Employee representatives tabled detailed analysis clearly showing the total per capita income available to Queensland and NSW Catholic schools from federal, state and parent fees was essentially the same. If NSW Catholic employing authorities can afford wage levels with the same funding base then so too can Queensland Catholic employers.
In rejecting the employee claim for comparable rates, employer representatives have asserted that their rejection of comparable rates with NSW Catholic Diocesan schools is 'not about affordability - but who is the relevant stakeholder'; NSW Catholic employers are not a relevant 'stakeholder' in their view but the Queensland state government is.
Chapters are convening meetings to endorse a resolution reaffirming the claim for comparable wage rates to NSW Catholic Diocesan colleagues – noting the employers comment that it is not a matter of 'affordability' and their contrived argument of convenience to curtail legitimate wage increases.
Employer position fails to recognise relevance of employee claim
The employer offer seeks to use the outdated method of tying wage increases for Queensland Catholic school employees to the state sector instead of providing comparability of teacher rates to that of a major interstate Catholic employer, namely NSW Catholic Diocesan.
In doing so, the employer position only continues the trend of Queensland employees being paid less than their interstate colleagues even though a detailed analysis (see below) clearly demonstrates that the funding (federal, state and fee income) for Queensland Catholic schools is comparable to NSW Catholic schools.
Employer offer is embarrassing on their own measure
The wage position tabled by the employers fails their own tests on what should be the basis of a sound wage offer.
Employers asserted that their wage offer recognises the professionalism, work and contribution of all employees in Queensland Catholic schools. It does not.
They claimed that their offer provided responsible stewardship of schools but ignored a concern for the 'stewardship' of those that they employ.
Employers stated that they had taken account of comparable wages but focused narrowly on a low percentage increase rather than restoring wage justice with comparable actual rates of pay in interstate Catholic jurisdictions.
Queensland Catholic employers can afford wage justice
The employers’ refusal to use a major interstate Catholic employer, namely NSW Catholic Diocesan, to provide wage justice for their employees is even more unreasonable when the funding available for their schools is compared to NSW Catholic Diocesan schools.
Employee representatives tabled at this week's Single Bargaining Unit (SBU) meetings a highly researched document on school funding compiled from publically available sources. The analysis reveals that there is comparable funding for NSW and QLD Catholic Diocesan schools when the three major elements of federal and state government funding as well as parent fees are considered.
The funding for three Queensland Diocese – Brisbane, Rockhampton and Cairns – was compared to that of the NSW Diocese of Parramatta and Wollongong. Analysis of the Townsville and Toowoomba Diocese could not be undertaken as their school fees are not publicly available.
In providing a comparable metropolitan centre to the Diocese of Brisbane, the Diocese of Parramatta was chosen with its broad and diverse range of schools; the Diocese of Wollongong was chosen as a comparable regional centre to the Dioceses of Rockhampton and Cairns. Other sources of funding such as school levies, school foundations and fundraising was not included in these calculations in order to ensure as close a comparison as possible based on the three major sources of Catholic school funding.
While the figures are not identical, they are not dissimilar, with the funding available to some Queensland Catholic schools higher than comparable schools in NSW.
It is important to note that the new federal funding arrangements are based on the Schooling Resource Standard. The Average Government School Recurrent Cost (AGSRC) no longer applies meaning federal funding to Catholic schools is no longer on the basis of a proportion of the costs of running a state school. Rather, each school receives a set amount per student regardless of whether the child is in a government or non-government school.
Fundamentally, with federal funds making up 60 per cent of funding to Queensland Catholic schools compared with approximately 20 per cent from the state government, the idea that the state sector is the best comparator when it comes to employee wages is nonsensical and out-dated.
No matter the arguments employers may put about 'differences' between Queensland and NSW conditions, Queensland 'grouping' of monies and the like, the fact is the analysis points to funds being available to ensure wage justice.
Employee concerns over other elements of employer claim
In addition to their unjust wage position, employers tabled a handful of claims, the most concerning of which related to the ability of the employer to suspend the allowance of an ET6 employee in vague and unspecified circumstances for performance issues or breaches of code of conduct. Employers have again sought to require ET6 employees to undertake additional duties. These provisions will continue to be vigorously rejected by employee representatives given the unclear and negative impacts their implementation would have on ET6 employees.
The employers’ claims relating to the required taking of annual leave by school officers and services staff as well as the annualisation of hours for term time employees in Brisbane and Cairns Diocese are being given further consideration by employee representatives.
Watch the latest edition of Independent Education TV (IE TV) at the links below for more information on the employee wage claim as well as the claim for wage justice for term time school officers.