Catholic negotiations set to continue into 2016 as employers fail to address critical claims
Queensland Catholic school employers have yet again failed to propose a bargaining position that would address critical employee concerns and resolve negotiations for a new collective agreement.
At a further SBU meeting held on 17 November, Queensland Catholic school employing authorities did not make any significant changes to their bargaining position.
Catholic employing authorities have again rejected:
- any substantive employee proposals to deal with their workload levels.
- the employee claim for comparable wages with comparable interstate colleagues for comparable work.
- measures to address poverty wages in certain boarding schools.
- wage justice of four (4) weeks paid annual leave for term time school officers.
Employers’ indifference delays negotiations
The blame for any delay in resolving these negotiations and taking a proposed agreement to ballot and paying a wage increase rests squarely with the employing authorities.
From the outset employers rejected the employee request to begin these negotiations in February and pushed back the start until April. The employers have now spent seven months failing to show any serious consideration of employees’ ongoing concerns, instead focusing their energies on how to stop members having a voice on these concerns by limiting their protected action.
Furthermore, even if employee representatives were to agree to a ballot being held the simple and objective fact is the employers have yet to resolve their position on a number of matters. There is no document available to ballot.
At stop work meetings held across the state earlier this week, members condemned the employers’ delay in resolving the new agreement and their failure to adequately address these critical bargaining issues.
However, Queensland Catholic employing authorities continue to reject resolution of these matters and assert that the current arrangements are appropriate. This attitude defies common sense.
There can surely be no illusion in the minds of Catholic employers that the current significant wage disparity can be sustained into the future and no illusion that staff can continue to have no relief from increasing workloads. Nor can anyone committed to social justice sit idly by when the lowest paid employees are denied simple wage justice.
In a moment when Catholic schools cry out for an intervention borne of real leadership, Catholic employers are more intent on thwarting employees taking industrial action than in addressing the issues that confront the future of Queensland Catholic schools.
Employers’ shameful attitude to wage justice for term time school officers
Employers have consistently rejected the claim for 4 weeks annual leave for term time school officers. In an attempt to address the employers’ interpretation of relevant industrial provisions, employees sought the assistance of the Fair Work Commission (FWC) in a mediation meeting. The FWC meeting was held last Thursday 11 November.
The employers sent representatives to the FWC meeting – but that is all they did; the employer representatives stated at the outset that no matter what was said at the FWC meeting, nothing would change their position. Given the inflexibility of the employers’ position, the FWC concluded the meeting.
Employers remain wedded to an unjust and unfair position for term time staff who by definition will never have the opportunity to work a full year to access a four week annual leave entitlement enjoyed by other Australian workers.
Employers support poverty wages in certain boarding schools
For more than three years employing authorities have been on notice that the very low pay rates in certain boarding schools must be addressed. No action was taken at all.
Now these employers refuse to make up the identifiable difference and have made an offer which would perpetuate these poverty wages for another three years. Sadly the other employers support the position of these four impoverished wage schools.
Employers must do better
Queensland Catholic employers have one last opportunity to resolve these negotiations at the final SBU for this year, to be held on Tuesday 1 December.
This is a chance for them to demonstrate that they really do understand the reality of what is happening in schools and are determined to address these realities in a meaningful way. What is need is real leadership; leadership which cares about the future of Catholic schools; leadership which cares about employees and leadership which moves beyond platitudes to real action.
Members will be watching their employers and on the basis of Chapter resolutions this week, unless there are significant changes in the employer position, members will escalate the campaign and action at the commencement of the new year.