Over 7,000 Queensland Catholic school teachers could be locked out of their schools indefinitely if their employers enact their threat made last Friday – creating chaos and widespread disruptions across the sector.
Last week, Independent Education Union of Australia – Queensland and Northern Territory (IEUA-QNT) members from Catholic schools across Queensland went on strike over issues related to workload and wage parity.
IEUA-QNT branch secretary Terry Burke said the decision was taken after the proposals to resolve the impasse “fell short” of measures to address teacher workloads and maintaining the 30-year wage parity with the state sector through the provision of a $1,250 one-off payment to all school staff.
However, on Friday, Catholic school employers issued a threat to lock teachers and school support staff out of their schools as a 'take it or leave it' offer in regard to a new agreement.
Queensland Catholic Education Commission (QCEC) executive director Dr Lee-Anne Perry said employers had made a “fair offer” to Catholic school staff.
The QCEC’s offer includes a 2.5% general wage increase (above the inflation rate of 1.7%), backpay to 1 July for teachers and 1 May for school officers and a one off $500 payment to eligible staff in return for signing on to a four-year enterprise agreement.
Dr Perry said employers had written to all employees to explain the entire package of wages and conditions being offered.
“This offer would see our graduate teachers start on a salary of $71,833 increasing with experience and proficiency to our highest paid classroom teachers earning $128,140 per year,” she said.
“The $500 payment and backpay up to the end of November would represent significant payments to many teachers and staff.”
IEUA-QNT branch secretary, Terry Burke, said members are urgently meeting today to discuss their response to what it called the employers’ “threatening and offensive offer”.
“Queensland Catholic school employers have now resorted to threats and bullying tactics in an effort to force an outcome regarding current collective bargaining negotiations,” Burke said.
“That threat is to lockout staff – meaning they would be denied entry to school sites and prohibited from doing any work on school grounds.”
Burke said Queensland Catholic school employers would “forever have the infamy and shame” of being the first Catholic education employer in Australia to threaten a lockout of their employees for taking “legally authorised protected action”.
“IEUA-QNT members are shocked by the threatening behaviour of their employer in a school environment where bullying and threats are not only not condoned but explicitly prohibited,” he said.
“That Queensland Catholic school employers would resort to such shameful tactics goes against the very ethos of what a Catholic school represents.”