Member action leads to secure jobs over contracts
Teacher members at a Queensland non-government school have secured permanent positions after being employed on rolling contracts for a number of years.
The outcome was achieved after members at the school approached their principal collectively and sought conversion to continuing positions.
While fixed-term contracts should only be used in circumstances where there is an identifiable short-term need – such as extended leave of another staff member – many members have reported being stuck on rolling, indefinite contracts.
IEUA-QNT Assistant Secretary/Treasurer Paul Giles said the outcome achieved by members in this instance was significant.
“The insecure nature of contract work means that employees are often reticent to speak up due to fear of not receiving further work,” Mr Giles said.
“In this instance, the collective action from members was crucial in achieving a positive outcome and taking an initial step in our broader campaign to address insecure work in our schools.”
Insecure work will be a key theme in Queensland Catholic school members’ Bargaining with One Voice collective bargaining campaign, which commenced this week.
Ahead of bargaining, members have been sharing their insecure work stories and detailing the personal and professional hardships caused by precarious employment.
It is not just the education sector which is impacted by insecure work; 40% of Australian workers are employed in casual, contract or other forms of insecure work.
Mr Giles said members’ endorsed Log of Claims included a clear plan to address insecure work, which impacts teachers, school officers and services staff alike.
These measures include: criteria to ensure only genuine fixed-term appointments are made; an audit to investigate fixed-term contracts and conversion to continuing positions; and certainty of hours for part-time employees.
“While fixed-term contracts should only be used in cases of an identifiable short-term need, the feedback from members, both teachers and school officers, includes shameful tales of the use of such contracts rolling over multiple year periods,” Mr Giles said.
“Meanwhile, for those school officers with continuing status, many are employed on a term-time basis and have their hours varied at the beginning of each year with no guarantee of how many hours they will receive the following year.
“Having secure employment that allows you to plan for the future is a foundation of Australian workplaces, yet this has been sadly eroded over time.”
Mr Giles said members in this case were to be commended for securing an early win in our union’s broader campaign to address insecure work.
“These members are to be congratulated for working collectively to secure ongoing positions.
Mr Giles said while these members had secured a successful outcome, our union had seen many instances – particularly among school officers – where requests to convert to secure employment were rejected.
Among those rejected for permanent contracts include staff who have worked in the sector for more than 10 years.
Mr Giles said the upcoming bargaining seeks to win more substantial mechanisms for staff to convert from contract positions to permanent employment.
“By bargaining with one strong collective voice in these negotiations, members will aim to ensure that as many staff as possible in our schools have the opportunity to obtain the security of a permanent position.”
Find out more about Queensland Catholic schools collective bargaining at www.qieu.asn.au/colb9