In mid-April the IEU VicTas Branch challenged stand downs in three independent Victorian schools. Two of these matters have now been resolved, and the third has been listed for arbitration at the Fair Work Commission in early May.
General Secretary Deb James said: “We know that this is a difficult time for non government education, and that every school will face challenges. We don’t want to get bogged down in unnecessary disputation and have encouraged all employers to consult with us around any staffing or employment issues. As in government and Catholic schools, the majority of independent schools are doing the right thing by staff and students – but unfortunately it seems that a handful of high-fee schools are seeking to balance their books at the expense of their most vulnerable employees rather than dipping in to their own significant financial buffers.”
At Ballarat Clarendon College the union negotiated an outcome acceptable to IEU members based at the King Island campus. These members had been informed that they would be stood down without pay and that their accommodation arrangements would be maintained for only two weeks. Following conciliation at the Fair Work Commission and further direct negotiations, the college has agreed to continue to provide accommodation and will seek to provide them with meaningful paid work.
In conciliation at the Fair Work Commission on 17 April, Haileybury College committed to consulting with the union around their proposed stand downs. As a result of this very productive consultation, the school agreed that the proposed stand downs of over 30 music teachers would not proceed and announced to staff on Monday afternoon that these teachers will continue their paid employment.
Ivanhoe Grammar appears at this stage to be determined to push ahead with stand downs of a significant number of non teaching staff. The IEU believes that these stand downs are unjustifiable and unlawful. We are deeply concerned that this well resourced school is attempting to pass the costs of the adjustment to remote learning on to lower-paid and more vulnerable employees who clearly have other legitimate work that they could be undertaking. This matter looks set to proceed to arbitration in early May.
“The positive outcomes at Haileybury and Ballarat Clarendon College demonstrate that with proper consultation, schools are able to treat hard working staff with decency and respect during this difficult time. We congratulate Haileybury for their preparedness to reconsider their decision and agree to an outcome that is clearly to the benefit of students, staff and the whole school community,” said General Secretary Deb James.
“We commend Ballarat Clarendon College for committing to the wellbeing of staff on King Island who had been deeply concerned that they would be left without stable accommodation until normal schooling resumes. We will continue to oppose the unfair stand down proposals at Ivanhoe Grammar. We know that this school can afford to treat staff better than this. The vast majority of schools are doing the right thing by their staff, and we again call on Ivanhoe Grammar to do so as well.”
James continued: “We call on all employers in non government schools to consult with us and with their staff and not rush into any decisions which unreasonably disadvantage staff.”