Independent school seeks to strip employees’ conditions back to the Award
Employees at an independent school with a number of sites across Queensland would have their hard fought for working conditions effectively stripped back to just those contained in the Modern Award under their employer’s proposed log of claims.
IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said that with collective bargaining negotiations having recently started, the employer came to the table with a proposal that was nothing short of a direct attack on the working conditions of employees at the school and on the profession as a whole.
The employer log of claims seeks to:
- “Simplify” hours of duty for teachers with an increase from 30 to 38 hours per week.
- Remove the provision for planning, preparation and correction time (PPCT).
- Remove proportion of salary (thereby making calculations for vacation payments for new employees or those who are leaving, less beneficial than the Award).
- Remove current senior teacher and experienced teacher appointment provisions.
- Make changes to teacher classifications.
- Replace classifications of school officers and youth workers with Award classifications.
- Reduce long service leave entitlements.
- Reduce superannuation co-contributions.
- Reduce redundancy entitlements.
- Reduce paid parental leave.
- Restrict access to emergent leave.
- Remove the deferred salary scheme.
- “Simplify” the fixed-term employment clause by changing the criteria around converting from fixed term to continuing status.
- “Simplify” the training clause by removing any specific reference to resources, special needs, teaching, non-teaching, and industrial relations training.
- Increase the waiting period to access pro-rata long service leave on termination.
- Limit access to first aid allowance.
- Require staff to pay for their own first aid training.
The employer is also yet to make any commitment to wage increases and back pay.
Mr Burke said members from the various Chapters of the school had met and expressed their serious concern with the employer log of claims and the employer’s intent to ignore conditions that have been standard in the education sector for many years.
“In tabling such a log of claims, the employer has shown their complete lack of understanding of the education sector and the working conditions required for educators to provide quality education to their students,” Mr Burke said.
“As employee representatives sought clarifications and details of the employer’s claims to ‘simplify’ workers’ conditions, there emerged an alarming picture of an employer who does not understand the education sector, its provisions or the reasons for them.
“Employer representatives have showed little understanding of teachers’ hours of duty, or even the difference between planning, preparation and correction time (PPCT) and other duties.
“Most disturbing of all, the employer has stated their belief that their school employees cannot reasonably compare themselves with colleagues in the either the state or non-government education sectors.
“What this employer has shown is that they have no respect for their employees and no respect for their role as professionals providing quality education.
“Their claim would strip from teachers their ability to make the professional judgements that characterise quality teaching while also removing key conditions that enable all school staff to have a quality of life outside of work and provide for their families.
“This situation clearly shows how the current industrial relations legislation is failing workers.
“In 2009 Australian workers were promised a future where collective bargaining was front and centre in providing better working conditions.
“Today, that future has not come to be.
“Instead, employers have used the legislation to deny workers such a reality, creating a situation where the Modern Award – which was meant to be a safety net of conditions only – is now held up as the main determinant of working conditions.
“It is an utterly shameful situation and one which must change.
Mr Burke said while changing the legislation was a task for the broader union movement, any attempts to strip working conditions in the education sector – including this latest attempt in Queensland – would be vigorously fought by IEUA-QNT members.
“Across the state, IEUA-QNT Chapters and Branches are now sending messages of support to members from the school in question, condemning the employer claim and reiterating the need to retain and improve current working conditions – not reduce them.
“The employer is now on notice that members will not accept this attack and we await their position at the next SBU meeting, hopeful that it will be one that values and empowers their staff to provide quality education,” Mr Burke said.