Time to look to the future, not the past
Our union remains committed to resolving negotiations for a new collective agreement for Queensland Catholic school employees.
However, Queensland Catholic school employers seemingly want to focus on the past with their latest briefing to staff (Thursday, 28 November 2019) – debating issues our union had felt were resolved at the SBU meeting this week.
Queensland Catholic employers are clearly determined to assert that they never threatened to “lock out” employees.
While IEUA-QNT members want to move on and forward with resolving the matters at hand, it is important the employers’ misrepresentations are addressed.
Misrepresentations of the Fair Work Act 2009
The employers, in writing to employees (22 November 2019) confirmed it was their plan to issue notices to employees under section 471(4) of the Fair Work Act 2009, should staff continue the work bans after 5pm Wednesday, 27 November 2019.
That section requires that the notices contain two components:
“(i) the employee will not be entitled to any payments; and
(ii) the employer refuses to accept the performance of any work by the employee until the employee is prepared to perform all of his or her normal duties”.
This section of the Act would require Queensland Catholic school employers to: “refuse[s] to accept the performance of any work”.
What is a “lock out”?
The Fair Work Act (s19(3)) defines a “lock out” as follows:
“An employer locks out employees from their employment if the employer prevents the employees from performing work under their contracts of employment without terminating those contracts.”
Where an employer “refuses to accept the performance of any work” (as the Catholic employers threatened) that, by necessity, involves the employer preventing the employee from performing work.
Employers’ claim – inaccurate
The latest employers’ briefing – Update #13 (28 November 2019) – also contains a blatant misrepresentation of the Act that a “lock out” can only ever be of “all” employees:
“If there is a lock out, all employees would be prevented by the employer from coming to work and being paid” (emphasis added).
The Act contemplates that a single or a number of employees can be “locked out” but it is not necessary that a “lock out” involves all employees.
The employers’ proposed action to prevent employees’ attendance at work and being paid would have applied to employees who undertook a work ban.
There are legal obligations under the Fair Work Act 2009, that make it unlawful to knowingly or recklessly make a false or misleading representation about the effect of the exercise of a workplace right (which includes section 471(4) notices).
Employing authorities claim to be aware of these obligations.
Ready to resolve negotiations
IEUA-QNT members are ready to resolve the negotiations and explore the ways in which we can do this.