Community calls for justice for Shalom Christian College employees
Over 100 members of IEUA-QNT and the wider community gathered in Townsville and Brisbane to demonstrate against the shameful acts of the Uniting Church in making 85 employees redundant without proper consultation.
The egregious act has been condemned by our union.
IEUA-QNT Assistant Branch Secretary Brad Hayes said our union was calling on the Uniting Church to show some compassion for the extraordinary number of staff who have been left without a job just before the Christmas period.
“The unprecedented number of job losses is even greater than we had feared.
“It is deeply upsetting not only for staff but for the College’s students and the broader Townsville community.
“It has also compounded the shock and pain felt by staff who first learnt of the closure of the school’s secondary and boarding facility in the media last week.
“The Uniting Church has rejected almost all employee proposals for additional assistance which had been put forward by staff to better support them during this awful time.
“This included a refusal to provide any additional severance pay, a refusal to guarantee the payment of long service for all staff or to even help with relocation expenses for members who have to move in order to get a new job.
“The employer has even refused to arrange for a financial consultant to meet with employees to provide valuable financial advice.
“It’s a shameful position for the employer to take given the manner in which they have handled this situation and it’s particularly shameful as we enter the season of Christian compassion,” Mr Hayes said.
IEUA Assistant Federal Secretary Christine Cooper said that the Uniting Church is acting against its own foundational statements.
“It’s outrageous that the staff at Shalom Christian College heard about the closure of their school from the media and not from the Uniting Church.
“It’s outrageous that just weeks before Christmas 85 staff and their families are now thrown into chaos because of the actions of the Uniting Church employer.
“The Uniting Church proclaimed to their followers that they would stand for the basic Christian values such as: the importance of every human being, the need for integrity in public life, the proclamation of truth and justice, the importance of personal dignity, the rights of every citizen in decision making in their community, and a concern for the welfare of the human beings in their care.
“Try telling that to the staff and students of Shalom Christian College,” Ms Cooper said.
Aunty Thersa Nunn, a member of our union’s Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) Working Group read a statement from the staff at Shalom Christian College.
“Workers at the school face huge uncertainty and we are fearful of our chances of finding other work this late in the school year.
“85 employees will suffer a Christmas period with no idea as to how they can support themselves and their families.
“This is a terrible feeling that no one should have to go through,” Aunty Thersa Nunn said on behalf of Shalom Christian College staff.
Unions across sectors joined the demonstration in solidarity, including the Queensland Teachers Union (QTU), the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), the Queensland Nurses and Midwives Union (QNMU), United Voice, the Transport Workers Union (TWU) as well as the Queensland Council of Unions (QCU) as the peak body in the state.
QCU Assistant General Secretary Michael Clifford highlighted how these shameful actions show just how broken the rules are when it comes to industrial laws in this country.
“What we need is consultation provisions which are genuine – which involve workers in the decisions of their workplace because workers know better than most.
“That’s what we expect of the Uniting Church as a decent employer.
“That’s what we expect of any employer,” Mr Clifford said.