Dept of Education: Stronger Together in 2019

Posted on January 18, 2019

I hope you have had a lovely start to 2019.

This year we want to see every member feeling recognised, safe and being respected at work.

A key part of this will be ensuring that the ongoing process to settle your wages and conditions for the next 3 years is settled well.

So where are we right now?  

Here’s a quick recap….

In 2018 Together members in Education put forward the key changes you wanted to see – equal pay for equal work, recognition of the appropriate classification for the work being performed, a fair annual pay rise, job security, safe workplaces free from occupational violence, dispute resolution processes that work for everyone and are fair, a timesheet that works, just to name a few! Here is the full log of claims developed by union members.

After months of negotiations, significant industrial action by union members, particularly by therapists, SOOs and workplace health and safety inspectors, numerous stop works culminating in an unprecedented state-wide strike in November. Finally, on the 6th of December the Department produced an offer to you to settle an agreement. You can see the offer document to remind you here.

This offer was put with a tight deadline to accept or reject of just one week.

The offer was great in relation to pay parity for therapists, recognising the technical role of scientific operations officers and there has been real progress on the occupational violence policies and recognition of overtime while on call for OIR Inspectors. However, there were several key pieces missing. The offer did not provide a percentage wage increase in the EB for the lowest paid workers in the Department for 2018, and potentially only 1.5% for the lowest paid in 2019, this offer did not address the concerns of staff about workload or recognition in other areas.

Together members voted on the offer in the timeframe given by the Department and there was a great participation rate. It was a close ballot result.

51% of Together members in the department voted in the ballot. Of those who voted, 46% voted to accept the offer and 54% voted to reject the offer.

So with that result we let the department know that the offer as it stood was not good enough for Together members to settle.

We then went back to the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission on Tuesday the 18th of December and reiterated this to the Departmental representatives saying the following:

  • Together members want to settle a new agreement and it is essential that the terms outlined that were favourable for Therapists, SOO classifications and the OIR occupational violence and overtime claims MUST REMAIN if there was any chance of a settlement in the new year
  • That the issue of wages needed to be addressed to provide a real wage rise for every worker to be covered by the agreement, in the EB, and to provide certainty of pay rises in 2019 and 2020.
  • That we urgently required the Terms of Reference for the Regional Office Review
  • It was  also emphasised that the offer was made before we had conciliation on the issues important to AO2s and that these matters needed to be addressed

The conference in the Commission did not resolve any of these issues.

We have had no further written communication from the Department other than to confirm meeting times for this year in early February.

Next Steps

Together delegates from across Queensland are meeting via teleconference this coming Monday (21 January) to consider the comments made by the Commissioner and the department in the December conference and what we should put back to the Department now.

The next negotiation meeting is scheduled for Tuesday 5th of February, and then we are back in the Industrial Relations Commission on Thursday the 7th of February to report back.

Members in the Office for Industrial Relations have continued their work bans and escalated to add some additional work bans in the last week.

On Monday delegates will also make a recommendation to you as members about recommencing the ongoing work bans from 2018 (please let us know what you think) and if we run a ballot for new work bans for those areas who have not yet taken action. This is particularly important if you voted no. To secure a better deal the pressure must go up. If you have any suggestions about action you and your colleagues are prepared to take please get in touch. Perhaps bans around Day 8 might be effective in schools!

As outlined last year, if an offer that is acceptable to the majority of union members is not produced then the next part of the process is arbitration, more like a trial, and it is a long process again.

That’s why, I will be recommending to delegates that we apply as much pressure as possible now to try and achieve a settlement. At every point union members will have a say about the action, about our position in negotiations and the strategy.

Without your involvement nothing changes, nothing ever has.

I hope that the recent Christmas period has been restful, restorative and happy for you all. We are certainly in the middle of a tough fight for recognition for your essential roles in our great state. What was very clear in 2018 is that you are standing up for your worth and that your colleagues and the community support you and want to see you recognised.

Let’s see what 2019 will bring! With you all working together I am sure it will be the best year yet.

We’ll be in touch!

1800 177 244
members@together.org.au