Catholic members plan for next bargaining wins
Catholic school members from across Queensland have come together to prepare for collective bargaining and develop our plan to tackle critical workplace issues in Catholic schools, IEUA-QNT Assistant Secretary Brad Hayes writes.
As part of our union’s extensive consultation process, 23 Area Meetings were held across Queensland in August to provide further opportunities for members to shape their future working conditions.
The Area Meetings followed member surveys and Chapter level discussions to identify both the opportunities and challenges that members will face in the upcoming negotiations.
Members identify clear priorites
Members from all Catholic sectors and regional branches have highlighted common concerns across their schools that need to be addressed:
- More secure jobs for all school staff.
- Striking a better work-life balance for employees.
- Careers that you can count on for School Officers and Services Staff.
- Greater recognition of Middle Leaders and Senior leaders.
- Fair wage and salary outcomes.
- Asserting ownership of our profession through the Teaching: It’s Our Profession campaign.
Members are now preparing for the challenge of making these outcomes a reality in their new agreement.
What could go wrong? Chapter strategies and barriers to success
Members at the Area Meetings discussed the practical strategies that will be needed to deliver a win for members on their important issues.
Strong and active union membership will be essential for a successful bargaining outcome.
In addition to asking new members to join, Chapters should also be putting in place extra support in the form of more Chapter Representatives and union contacts in all work areas of their school.
We know that bargaining can be lengthy and demanding. We will need the active support and involvement of all members to force real concessions from the employers.
Facing the reality of broken bargaining laws
The reality of the unfair legal hurdles that will be thrown at members in the negotiations will again be a major consideration.
Current bargaining laws are stacked in favour of employers who can frustrate members’ ability to achieve all that they deserve in their new agreement, using mechanisms to curtail member action.
It was only in the 2016 round of bargaining that Queensland Catholic employers attempted to obstruct members’ protected action, all due to employers’ inability to accept the definition of ‘staff meeting’ as just that: a meeting of staff.
Employers were prepared to spend tens of thousands of dollars in the Federal Circuit Court to argue that the term ‘staff meeting’ only applied to whole-of school staff meetings.
This sort of behaviour, complex legal restrictions on industrial action and an inability to negotiate with the real decision makers are just some of the symptoms of a broken system that must be changed to give all Australian workers a fair chance in bargaining.
Despite these challenges, and likely employer tactics of delays and rejections, we are ready to begin our fight for rewarding, secure and well-paid jobs for all Catholic school employees.
For the latest updates on Queensland Catholic negotiations visit www.qieu.asn.au/colb9