If your working condition aren’t protected, they’re at risk
A recent case in a Queensland independent school has highlighted the risk of complacency around working conditions that aren’t protected within a collective agreement.
Staff at the school in this case were historically paid at public wage rates and had access to a range of other above-Award conditions.
As this arrangement had been in place for many years, most staff felt their conditions were ‘safe’.
However, unless working conditions are enshrined within a collective agreement, they can be rescinded at the whim of management – precisely what is occurring at this school.
Management has decided to scale back employees’ working conditions, which is permissible in the absence of a collective agreement.
From a legal standpoint, the only safety-net available to employees is the Modern National Award, which contains wages and working conditions that are significantly less beneficial than those union members have established as industry standard in their collective agreements.
Under the Award, the minimum rate of pay available to even the most experienced teachers is $71,284 per annum.
Employees on Award conditions are also denied access to many benchmark conditions including regulated hours of duty, enhanced leave provisions and superannuation co-contribution.
In response to the employer’s action at the school, IEUA-QNT membership is growing and the newly expanded union Chapter is acting collectively to affirm working conditions within a collective agreement.
IEUA-QNT Assistant Secretary Brad Hayes said the situation faced by the staff at this school was far from uncommon when complacency about working conditions dominated workplace culture.
“What this recent case highlights is the need to be an active member of our union and to never be complacent with management,” Mr Hayes said.
“Situations change, people change but our union is always there to protect our members.
“It can be easy to think that working conditions just exist, it is important that all members and employees for that matter, understand that they do so because of the collective strength, sacrifice and hard work of our union and generations of members who have gone before us.
“While the gains won by financial members in our sector are passed on to everyone, when people choose not to be part of the collective they putting themselves at the control and whim of their employer.
“The case also reinforces the need to ensure that working conditions are given enforceability through a collective agreement because, ultimately, history and good relationships have very clear limits.”
If you’d like to discuss working conditions at your school, talk to your IEUA-QNT Organiser.