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Home > News > 2016 > January > Catholic school members seek escalation of campaign with new protected action ballot

Catholic school members seek escalation of campaign with new protected action ballot


Catholic school teachers and support staff across Queensland are considering escalation of their campaign over working conditions with a further protected action ballot current underway.

Ahead of the ballot, over 7,500 Catholic school union members in over 180 schools across Queensland were authorised to stop work from 8:30am to 9:00am on Friday 22 January 2016 as their concerns regarding increasing workloads and inequitable wages
unaddressed by their employers.

Teachers and school support staff from Catholic schools attending a Brisbane Catholic Education Conference on the Gold Coast took the stop work action and rallied at the beginning of the conference.

Branch Secretary Terry Burke said this was the seventh time members had stopped work as part of the campaign – and the first work stoppage for members this year – after negotiations began in April last year.

"Members have waited long enough for Catholic school employers to resolve employees’ legitimate employee issues in this round of collective bargaining," Mr Burke said.

"The protected action undertaken by members in 2015 had a clear impact on employers, as confirmed by their repeated and costly legal challenges to members’ actions. Instead of seeking to address members’ concerns, it is clear the employers have sought to delay these negotiations in the hopes that members’ concerns will just go away," he said.

Catholic sector members are now voting to consider escalating the campaign in order to resolve these critical workplace issues which remain unaddressed by the employers:

•           Provide comparable wages to interstate colleagues and end the decade long wage discount suffered by Queensland teachers.

•           Secure the employers’ significant intervention in response to employee workload issues.

•           Ensure wage justice for term time employees by providing the community standard of four weeks paid annual leave.

•           Better recognise experienced teachers and middle leaders and guarantee the introduction of Highly Accomplished Teacher (HAT) and Lead Teacher (LT).

•           Address the poverty wages paid to employees in certain Catholic boarding schools.

•           Provide professional recognition and support for the vital work undertaken by school counsellors and guidance counsellors in Catholic schools.

New ballot to enable additional protected action

The new protected action ballot of members in almost 290 Catholic schools across Queensland is allowing members to consider additional protected industrial action in the form of full day work stoppages and a delay in responding to work emails (except for emails which deal with a genuine health or safety matter for employees or students or child protection matters).

Mr Burke said the additional ballot provides an opportunity for members to send a clear message to the employers that they must show some leadership and act on the real concerns identified by their staff. 

Campaign continues

In addition to the seventh work stoppage held in January, members in authorised schools are continuing their protected actions as endorsed last year including the work and meeting bans. 

“Members understand the importance of having these concerns addressed by employers in this round of bargaining – not just for employees but for the future of quality education provided in our schools and to our students.

“Any claim by the employers that they have “moved” on key employee claims is inaccurate and this action and the campaign will continue until the employers also understand the importance of addressing these critical employee concerns,” he said.

“It is always regrettable when members are forced to consider such protected industrial action but the continued failure of Queensland Catholic schools employers to address these longstanding and inequitable conditions faced by their teachers and school support staff across the state has left members no choice,” Mr Burke said.

The next negotiation meeting with Catholic employers is set for Tuesday 9 February. 

Authorised by Terry Burke, Independent Education Union of Australia – Queensland & Northern Territory Branch, Brisbane.