Queensland Catholic school staff suspend work bans, seek Fair Work Commission assistance
Protected industrial action in the form of work bans in 196 Queensland Catholic schools has been suspended by IEUA-QNT members today (27 November) – preventing chaos in classrooms across the state following their employers’ lockout threat.
Branch Secretary Terry Burke said members had met on Monday (25 November) and Tuesday (26 November) and voted to suspend the work bans in a bid to prevent an unprecedented lockout of teachers and school staff by Queensland Catholic school employers.
Employer threat cannot be forgotten
“In the face of the threats and intimidation by their employer, our members have put their schools and students first and suspended the action,” Mr Burke said.
“It should never be forgotten by school staff or parents of students in Queensland Catholic schools that the employers resorted to this kind of behaviour.
“Queensland Catholic school employers will forever have the shameful legacy as the first Catholic school employers in the country to threaten a lockout of their own staff.
“The Catholic Church has a long history of commentary and advocacy on the dignity of the worker.
“These teachings support the rights of workers to withdraw their labour.
“The employers betrayed not only their workers, but also the very values of the Catholic Church by seeking to intimidate and penalise their staff for taking lawful protected action,” Mr Burke said.
Members seek FWC assistance
Mr Burke said given the impasse in negotiations, IEUA-QNT members had also voted to seek the assistance of the independent industrial umpire – the Fair Work Commission (FWC) – to now facilitate collective bargaining negotiations under the New Approaches program.
“The New Approaches program means that the FWC assists both employer representatives and employee representatives to explore alternate solutions to get an outcome,” Mr Burke said.
“To undertake this program, Queensland Catholic school employers must also agree to it – and we will be asking them to do so at today’s (27 November) negotiation meeting being held in Brisbane.
“Given the recent statewide protected action of members and now the support of the community (an online petition reached well over 1500 signatures in just 24 hours overnight), we call on the employers to hear the voice of employees when it comes to workload and wage parity issues, and agree to negotiate on these issues through the FWC’s New Approaches program,” he said.
Mr Burke said should employers fail to take this sensible next step in the negotiation process, then it was the legal right for the employers to put their agreement to a vote of all employees.
“Voting on any agreement is a decision of Queensland Catholic school employers, as is a decision to make any back payments to staff,” Mr Burke said.