AUS wide

New South Wales
Mobile billboard truck takes to the streets

The IEUA NSW/ACT Branch revved up its mobile billboard truck on 20 August, sending it on the road for two weeks with a packed itinerary visiting towns and schools throughout NSW.

While the truck’s giant digital screens carried a series of messages, there were two key issues: Fix teacher shortages now! Pay support staff properly! At each stop, the truck was greeted by media and members in bright yellow ‘Hear our voice!’ campaign t-shirts.

In its first week, the truck covered the Illawarra region and Nowra, south of Sydney; then Queanbeyan, Goulburn and Bathurst; followed by Sydney’s western, northern and eastern suburbs and the city itself.

In the second week, the truck headed north to the central coast, Newcastle and Port Macquarie; then inland to Armidale and Tamworth and back south to Singleton and Maitland.

“The IEU seeks the support of the public, politicians and parents in our campaign to have teacher shortages taken seriously,” said IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Secretary Mark Northam.

“Solutions are straightforward: fair salaries for teachers; pay parity for support staff with their counterparts in government schools; adequate planning time; a reduced administrative load; and practical strategies to end the acute staff shortages afflicting schools and the early childhood sector.”

Australian Capital Territory
Step in the right direction

ACT Catholic systemic teachers who received a 1.5% increase on 1 July are counting on a further increase before the end of the year to counter the high cost of living in the ACT. In the previous years, increases were 3% in 2018 (in two increments); then 3% in 2019; 3% in 2020; and 3% in 2021) in line with teachers in ACT public schools.

In other news, the application of 20 hours’ professional learning each year is anchored within the ACT Teacher Quality Institute (TQI) Act. TQI is looking at other ways of assisting teachers to fulfil their professional learning obligations during this pandemic period.

Considerations include recognising ‘system-sponsored’ professional learning, automatically recognising the evidence of practice against the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (APST), as teachers move from Provisional to Proficient and to include those seeking certification at Highly Accomplished and Lead teacher level.

Finally, the IEUA NSW/ACT Branch has moved its ACT office to Deakin. The new office will provide space for the IEUA National office.

Northern Territory
Exemption for teachers from Automatic Mutual Recognition scheme

The Northern Territory Government has exempted teachers from participating in the Automatic Mutual Recognition (AMR) scheme, meaning teachers are unable to use the AMR scheme to work as a teacher in the NT. The exemption is in place until 30 June 2027.

This is distinct from Mutual Recognition (MR) where a teacher who is registered in one jurisdiction can become registered in another, based on their nominal registration.

IEU-QNT Branch Executive member and NT Teacher Registration Board (TRB) acting representative Justin Zammit said while the AMR does allow for a smooth recognition of teachers’ registration from one jurisdiction to the other, the NT Government has placed an exemption on this for the time being.

“The TRB does allow for MR for teachers from other states and territories within Australia,” Mr Zammit said.

“This allows for a smooth transition of employment from one jurisdiction to the other.

“As always, the TRB strongly believes in ensuring all teachers registered within the NT are appropriately registered, competent, fit and proper to teach,” he said.

New provisions aim to close the Industrial Gap

IEU members at Hymba Yumba Independent School in south-east Queensland have secured powerful new provisions in their collective agreement – the first of its kind in education, this will contribute to Closing the Industrial Gap.

Organiser Aaron Watson said Hymba Yumba Independent School, a prep-to-Year 12 school with predominately First Nations students, provided education grounded in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures.

“The new provisions in the Hymba Yumba collective agreement relate to working with First Nations traditional cultural knowledge and intellectual property,” Aaron said.

“The provisions are designed to protect the traditional owners of cultural knowledge as well as the teachers or instructors delivering that knowledge to students.

“It details how cultural knowledge must be shared and indicates permission must be granted by traditional owners for authorised individuals to share that knowledge,” he said.

“Significantly, these provisions acknowledge that any First Nations cultural knowledge shared with students remains the property of the group of traditional custodians and does not belong to the school.

“It’s another step towards proper, tangible reconciliation between two legal codes and marrying them together, so that’s important,” he said.

Time for a deal

The union is co-ordinating more actions across regional Victoria and Melbourne to demand an urgent deal on a long-overdue agreement. There is one region, however, where the IEU doesn’t need to protest.

Schools in the Diocese of Sale in eastern Victoria finalised a deal that matches improvements won in government schools, including significant measures aimed at tackling the massive problem of teacher workloads.

Alas, employers tied to the Melbourne Archdiocese Catholic Schools (MACS) group, which includes many regional and rural schools, are still resisting consultation and transparency provisions long ago agreed to by diocesan (DOSCEL) and government schools.

This is further exacerbating the plight of teachers whose workloads, already unacceptable, continue to spike due to staff absences caused by illness.

Members rallied, moved sub branch motions, handed in damning ‘report cards’ on employer performance, and promoted a mobile billboard (known as the ‘MACS Truck’) that has been stopping at schools and Catholic education headquarters.

Constrained by clauses governing multi-enterprise agreements – which will hopefully be changed by the new Federal Government – strike action is a difficult last resort. But nothing is ruled out if the MACS group doesn’t offer its employees the same conditions as their colleagues.

Talks with meeting-shy employers descend into farce

The Tasmanian Catholic Education Office (TCEO) is seemingly out to revive the art of satire with its ‘negotiations’ on a new agreement.

First, they refused to meet for long enough to have any meaningful discussions (and never in person). Nine months after the union’s claim was served, there have been only a handful of online meetings.

Then came a demand for every union visitor to their offices to present a current Registration to Work with Vulnerable People – despite the fact there are no children at these offices.

The TCEO also pursued a ridiculous discrimination claim against an IEU Organiser – on religious grounds – for working directly with principals to resolve local issues rather than going through the TCEO HR Manager. Union representatives must deal with principals under the prevailing agreement.

Then the TCEO deemed “the practice of bringing foodstuffs onto CET sites… an OHS/WHS risk” and directed that no food or beverages be brought onto their sites.

That obstruction, soon dubbed ‘TimTamgate’, generated mocking photos on social media and a hilarious horror video featuring the snacks.

After so little progress on a much-needed deal, every affected educator needed a laugh. But the union will not rest until the TCEO tomfoolery is replaced with good faith negotiations and an overdue result for members.

South Australia
Labor Government’s attack on injured workers

It was with great shock and disappointment that not two months into a state Labor Government — the same government that promised to be pro-worker, transparent and consultative — the union movement found itself in conflict with them.

Due to issues regarding unfunded liability, the government put legislation to parliament without consultation, limiting an injured worker’s ability to claim on two related injuries, known as the ‘Summerfield decision’.

This action brought unions together and, through a well-planned and implemented campaign, we were deferred the legislation.

The resulting new legislation is greatly improved, enshrining the rights: to count two related injuries; for lump sum payments to be paid to seriously injured workers; and a commitment from the government to look at the return to work structure.

IEU(SA) staff were involved in many meetings with the Premier Peter Malinauskas and the Attorney-General.

Many IEU(SA) members were prepared to join the action, if needed, with statements, videos of their injuries and visits to their local MP.

In the end, the government resolved the legislation issues in consultation with unions, so this member action was not required.