Present tense:

Cure for anaemic wages growth

For much of this year and last, this column has bemoaned the anaemic state of wages growth in Australia, and in the post secondary college sector in particular. It is pleasing, then, to see that not all employers are cheapskates, trying to screw their wage earners into the ground.

In November, your Union settled terms with Sydney English Language Centres (SELC), with salary increases of 12% over four years, and several other improvements to their existing enterprise agreement, including clauses relating to casual conversion, leave without pay, professional development and domestic violence leave.

Negotiations initially started in 2016 (the previous agreement expired at the end of 2015), but had to be put on hold when the College ran into severe financial difficulties, necessitating a restructure and widespread redundancies.

Negotiations commenced again this year, and the surviving teachers felt strongly that their sacrifices of 2016 should be taken into account, in particular in regard to back pay. After some discussion, the college finally agreed to back pay 5% of salary to 1 January 2016, a further 3% from 1 January 2017, with additional 2% increases in January 2018, and January 2019. This means that by the time the agreement is approved, teachers will be getting a 10% salary increase, a just reward for their support of the college through the lean times.

In addition to salary, the new agreement will also include provisions relating to leave without pay (without breaking service), domestic, partner and family violence leave (up to five days per annum), support for professional development, and casual conversion (in recognition of a similar clause going into the post secondary award).

This is an excellent agreement, and one of which the college, its teachers and their Union can feel proud. Hopefully it also shows other colleges that they do not need to pursue the lowest common denominator when making arrangements for their staff. The college, pleasingly, recognises that if you want quality teachers, they need to offer quality conditions.

ELICOS seminar

Your Union is always seeking ways to provide a better service to members, and so in the new year we will be holding our regular seminar for employees in the post secondary college sector. This seminar will be held at the IEU offices at 485-501 Wattle Street in Ultimo, on Tuesday, 23 January 2018 (4pm start).

The seminar will cover a range of issues of interest to employees in the sector, including your right and responsibilities, superannuation and how the Union can work in your workplace. Similar seminars in the past have proved informative and useful for members, and hopefully you will be able to come along. An email notification will be sent to all members in the sector before Christmas.

Season’s greetings

This is the last Present Tense for 2017, but we will be back better than ever in the new year. Wishing all members and their loved ones all the best for festive season. See you in 2018!

Kendall Warren