Thousands of Queensland Catholic school teachers and support staff set for full day strike and rally next week
Over 8500 Catholic school union members across 242 school sites are authorised to stop work next Thursday 25 February* with the majority set to take full day strike action as concerns regarding increasing workloads and inequitable wages remain unaddressed by their employers**.
Independent Education Union of Australia – Queensland and Northern Territory (IEUA-QNT) Branch Secretary Terry Burke said it will be up to Queensland Catholic school employers to determine whether schools remain open in light of the significant industrial action by staff.
“Members have voted to escalate their campaign after continued indifference from Queensland Catholic school employers on critical matters affecting the quality of education in their schools,” Mr Burke said.
“This will be the eighth stop work Queensland Catholic school teachers and support staff have taken since negotiations over working conditions started ten months ago,” he said.
Over 7800 members in 206 Queensland Catholic school sites are authorised to take the full day strike action on Thursday 25 February* and will meet at mass member rallies to be held across the state***.
Over 700 members in 36 school sites who are authorised to take a shorter work stoppage will do so from 9am until noon on Thursday 25 February* and will join their colleagues at the mass rallies.
Mr Burke said the number of members taking action was growing because it was becoming increasingly clear that when it comes to the wellbeing of their employees and supporting them in achieving quality education in Queensland Catholic schools, the employers simply have no plan.
Mr Burke said that time and again, Queensland Catholic school employers had shown employees that they have:
- no plan to deal with the increasing workloads and pressures placed on teachers in their schools;
- no plan to deal with the fact the most experienced teachers in Queensland Catholic schools are paid less just because of their postcode.
- no plan to deal with the inequitable conditions of some of their lowest paid staff including some school support staff who are currently denied the community standard of four (4) weeks paid annual leave per year.
Brisbane-based teacher and IEUA-QNT President Andrew Elphinstone said taking full day strike action was not something members did lightly.
“It is a last resort, but for our members the issues yet to be addressed by our employers – issues which impact the foundation of the quality of education we provide to our students in our schools – are just too important,” Mr Elphinstone said.
Mr Burke said the employers’ continued claims that they have “moved” on key employee issues was inaccurate as were their misleading comparisons to NSW wages rates which did not compare “apples with apples” in terms of teacher classifications.
“Queensland Catholic school employers need to stop their smoke and mirrors approach, especially when it comes to wages where they are attempting to mask the reality that experienced Queensland teachers at the top automatic incremental step are currently paid almost $7,000 less a year than their NSW counterparts,” Mr Burke said.
Eleven (11) mass member rallies*** will be held across Queensland during the strike action next Thursday 25 February including in Brisbane, Toowoomba, the Gold and Sunshine Coasts, Bundaberg, Rockhampton, Townsville and Cairns.
Alongside the stop work action, employees in Catholic schools across the state are also undertaking other forms of industrial action including: bans on email replies (except for emails which deal with a genuine health or safety matter for employees or students or child protection matters); bans on meetings of staff; and bans on doing duties other than classroom planning and marking where allocated.
* As part of rolling stoppages across the state, authorised members in Mackay will take the stop work action on Tuesday 1 March.