Queensland Catholic teachers are threatening to strike following a deadlock over unbearable workloads and low pay.
Independent Education Union (IEU) Queensland branch secretary, Terry Burke, told The Educator that teachers had reached breaking point following a refusal by the Queensland Catholic Education Commission (CEC) to address teachers’ concerns.
“Staff are saying we just can’t cop this any longer,” Burke told The Educator.
“It’s not just that there’s more than enough to do, there is the impossible to do.”
The IEU said the state’s most experienced Catholic teachers are underpaid compared to their interstate counterparts, missing out on thousands of dollars compared to NSW.
However, CEC executive director, Dr Lee-Anne Perry, said the offer of a 2.5% pay rise, up from an offer of 2.2%, was fair.
“We believe this is a fair and responsible increase taking into account current market conditions, including the capacity of families to pay school fees,” Perry said.
Burke said the threat of industrial action was the culmination of teachers’ frustration over three years of unchanged conditions.
“On the matter of workload, a lot more has being asked of staff over the last three years since the last agreement. In fact, the last time they were amended was in 1993,” Burke said.
“We asked our members in an advisory ballot at the beginning of this term whether they wanted to be balloted formally under the Fair Work Act to take protected action.
“Of the 300 schools, 288 said yes, so from our perspective there will be industrial action on the basis of an authorised ballot in the last week of term.”
Catholic school employees are planning to gather outside Brisbane schools today, petitioning for greater pay increases.
The next Single Bargaining Unit meetings will be held 3 September.