Australia went to the polls last month, and the results were disappointing for those of us seeking change. However, your Union will continue to advocate for members as we have always done.
There have been many reasons put forward for the surprise result, but it seems that Labor’s risk in putting forward a large array of changes, prosecuted by a leader that struggled to cut through, did not pay off. The proposed Adani coal mine in central Queensland was also significant, seeing large swings north of the Tweed that made the ALP’s task next to impossible.
However, your Union, while supportive of the campaigns of both the ACTU and the Labor Party, was also conscious of not putting all our eggs in one basket. We know that relying on political change is no substitute for old fashioned union virtues, such as direct engagement with members, building capacity in our workplaces, and bringing what pressure we can to bear in pursuit of genuine improvements for our members.
The election carnage was not the only excitement in Queensland in recent weeks. Langports English Colleges have been in negotiations with IEUA-QNT for some months. Members there were exercising their authorised industrial action of wearing campaign paraphernalia when the college instituted a lock out. This meant that teachers at Langports were unable to attend work for 24 hours, in what was a stunning over-reaction by the College.
The negotiations have been difficult and protracted, with Langports refusing to offer any pay rise, and not moving on claims around improved preparation time for casuals, and an improved disputes procedure.
IEUA-QNT Secretary Terry Burke highlighted the hypocrisy of Langports, noting that the college has expressed that it supports and respects its teachers, while at the same time pursuing an aggressive industrial approach of lock outs and hard bargaining. “When asked how can you set out to financially injure your employees? Their response was: Because we can”.
The IEUA NSW/ACT stands alongside our colleagues in Queensland, and we have no doubt that many of you will as well. To contribute to the Union’s GoFundMe page, or to send a message of support, contact the IEUA-QNT (www.qieu.asn.au).
Not everything is doom and gloom, however. IEU Victoria Tasmania has concluded a successful negotiation with Kaplan for a new enterprise agreement. The new agreement provides for 6% pay rises in each of two years, conversion for both sessionals and casuals, arbitration in dispute settling, facilities for IEU reps, a Head Teacher allowance, time allowances for exam course teachers and improved redundancy.
This is a great outcome, and credit to Chris Clarke and the rest of the team at IEU Victoria Tasmania. It is also a great illustration of how a growing, active and committed membership can achieve great outcomes. IEU membership at Kaplan Melbourne is around 90%, and they have fought hard for the gains they have made.
The Fair Work Act includes provisions for ‘good faith bargaining’, under which employees (or group of employees, such as teachers) can force their employer to commence bargaining, where it can be demonstrated that majority wish to do so. To find out how that might work at your college, contact your union.
In early May, the Fair Work Commission formally included a casual conversion clause in the modern award. As a result, long term casual employees can apply to convert their employment to a permanent role, and the employer only has limited grounds to refuse. To find out if you are eligible, contact your Union.