Collective bargaining continues across the sector
Despite the challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic, IEU members continue to pursue collective bargaining across our sector in order to protect working conditions at this time.
Rockhampton Grammar School is now the latest in our sector to continue bargaining with a ballot for a new collective agreement set for mid-June.
Like many other schools and sectors in Term 1, our union was in the midst of negotiations with the school when the COVID-19 crisis emerged and the negotiations were halted.
IEUA-QNT Organiser Richard Pascoe said that now that the school is recommencing with on-site learning for students, it is commendable the employer is moving forward with finalising a new collective agreement.
“Last term, the employers contacted our union and advised that due to COVID-19 challenges, they did not wish to proceed with balloting a new collective agreement at that time.
“However, in early May they told us they wished to return their focus to finalising a new agreement,” Richard said.
“Our union and IEU Chapter members at the school welcomed this decision following the difficult time over the preceding month.
“Our union has worked hard to resolve a number of claims and won some significant provision enhancements, agreed to in-principle.
"The new draft agreement will continue to provide important protections of employee working conditions and entitlements.
"New enhancements will also be confirmed including teacher career structures, updated superannuation arrangements and more flexible leave options for staff.
“Our members now welcome the opportunity to have a say on their new collective agreement through a ballot.”
Moving forward means employers value staff
IEU member and Single Bargaining Unit (SBU) Representative Sally Etherden said that in uncertain times it is reassuring to know the school was moving forward with negotiations and working with the SBU staff representatives on the finalisation of the collective agreement.
“With this move, staff will have the confidence going forward, knowing that the school values and recognises their work, especially given the workload of the last few months,” Sally said.
“Being a part of our union is extremely important and reassuring.
“I have been teaching for 20 years and the demand on teachers has never been greater.
“Not only have expectations and workload demands grown, but we are now far more accessible to more people than we have ever been.
“This demand on time and skills creates a new level of expectation and multitasking that makes collective bargaining an extremely important process.
“Bargaining for staff around work conditions ensures that school leaders are made aware of those issues that teachers face everyday and are putting practices in place that seek to ensure sustainability and fulfillment within the profession moving forward.
“I think this is important for everyone involved in education – we want to keep our teachers in the profession and see growth and professional fulfillment.”
No reason negotiations cannot recommence
IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said that while it was understandable that there was a halt to negotiations across Queensland and the Northern Territory while schools responded to the COVID-19 crisis, there is no reason now why they cannot recommence.
“Having a collective agreement in place at your school is more important than ever before,” Mr Burke said.
“Collective agreements protect employees not only in ‘normal’ times but also in times of crisis.
“It is up to current members to keep fighting for their working rights and entitlements for the benefit of themselves and the future of their profession – and the only way to do this, is to be a member of our union,” Mr Burke said.