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CIT

Branch Council Rejects Offer

On Saturday 25th October 2014 the AEU ACT Branch Council unanimously rejected the offer made by the government. Read more to find out why.

At a meeting of more than 80 Councillors on Saturday 25 October 2014, AEU ACT Branch Council unanimously rejected the Government’s offer to teaching staff.

October 25 Council Resolution

AEU ACT Branch Council is deeply disappointed in the ACT Government offer to school teaching staff as received on 24 October 2014.

It is clear, from the offer as written, that the Government has dismissed the core priority and Claim 1 of the AEU ACT Branch log of claims for 2014. This fundamental failure, along with an inadequate pay model which leaves the ACT as no longer nationally competitive, renders the offer completely unacceptable in its current, admittedly sparse, form. 

Council notes the following points from the offer:

1.    With the exception of once-only payments for teachers achieving certification, the offer is cost-neutral, despite six months of bargaining.

2.    The salary offer is wholly within the cost envelope of the Gonski 3% guaranteed increase for education funding.

3.    Not one extra resource has been found to address the serious issue of excessive teacher workload and the challenge of maintaining sustainable, properly resourced professional learning communities which are key for improved student outcomes.

4.    That this offer fails to address the needs of students in ACT public schools, and it demonstrates the ACT Government does not adequately value the young people of the ACT.

As a consequence, Council does not view the Government offer to teaching staff dated 24 October 2014 as being worthy of serious consideration by the Union. Furthermore, Council reaffirms its support of the Union’s negotiating team in pressing for the full log of claims as agreed by AEU members in March 2014.


AEU Analysis of the Initial Offer from ETD

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Our Claim

ETD Response

Reduced face-to-face teaching hours to make time for professional learning communities.

  • “The Government’s position is that there will be no reduction in maximum face-to-face teaching hours for teachers and school leaders.”
  • ETD is proposing that three of the compulsory Professional Learning days be distributed across teaching weeks (instead of during stand-down). Once again, our employer is indicating meaningful professional learning is important, as long as it comes out of teachers’ time. They won’t properly resource it.
  • Nothing is offered to reduce workload levels that the SiAS survey revealed is well above the national average and the OECD has shown is much higher than that of international colleagues.

Nationally competitive salaries

 

  • The Government’s offer almost certainly would see the majority of our teachers slip into the bottom half of the states and territories salary table by the end of the agreement. Being 5th in the country behind Northern Territory, Western Australia, Victoria and NSW is far from “nationally competitive”.
  • Salary justice for ACT teachers was achieved off the back of a strong and sustained member campaign in 2011-2012, when we climbed from last to 3rd in the country. We cannot allow ACT teachers to slip back.

Principal remuneration and career structure which provides increases in remuneration which recognise the increased and increasing complexity of principal work and which ensure principal salaries in the ACT are nationally competitive.

 

  • ETD have offered a range of rhetoric about “transitional arrangements” (p.13) and promises to “develop the revised structure” (p.13). We need a new, functioning principal salary structure in this EA from Day 1, not eighteen months or more down the line.
  • Seeks to have all principal jobs go straight to open merit, removing the current entitlement of access a long-standing arrangement to gain experiences and share expertise across a range of placements within our vibrant system.

Guaranteed indoor temperature between 17° and 30° in all workplaces at all times.  Discussion of minimum and maximum temperatures for outdoor work.

 

  • This claim has not yet been discussed.

That teachers of VET have a reduced face to face teaching load equivalent to or pro rata of one line for every four lines of VET classes.

 

  • Discussions are not finalised on this matter.

That a maximum psychologist:student ratio of 1:500 be recognised in ACT public schools in line with the NSW Coroner’s recommendation, and the number of FTE positions increased accordingly.

 

  • Discussions are not finalised on this matter.

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The Bargaining Process - What next from here?

  • New educators and members who joined after the 2011 campaign may not be familiar with the process of bargaining a new Enterprise Agreement. The main thing to remember is that last time the Government made four offers. We accepted the fourth and final offer - so there could be a long way to go yet.

  • AEU ACT negotiators have already resumed meeting with the ETD negotiators to explain that Branch Council has rejected their offer and to discuss how they can adequately address the claims we have put to them.

  • Sub-branches are encouraged to meet between now and November 22 Branch Council to discuss the ETD offer and Branch Council's response. Sub-branches may consider passing resolutions in support of Council's decision.

  • AEU ACT staff are keen to attend Sub-Branch meetings to help explain the intricacies of negotiations. Just call 62727900 or email aeuact@aeuact.org.au to let us know when you're meeting.
  • It is important to appreciate that decisions of Branch Council are binding on all members. To influence decisions made by Branch Council, members should seek to pass resolutions in their Sub-Branch and ensure Sub-Branch Councillors attend Council meetings so they can express the views of the Sub-Branch.

Further Commentary

Numerous Union objections to the offer were discussed on Saturday, and, as reported in an email members on Monday 27 October 2014, this includes the following:

  • If accepted, this salary offer would see the majority of our teachers slip into the bottom half of the states and territories salary table over the life of the Agreement. Being 5th in the country behind Northern Territory, Western Australia, Victoria and NSW is far from “nationally competitive”. It appears that the ACT Labor Government values the remuneration of classroom teachers less than the Conservative Governments in four jurisdictions. Salary justice for ACT teachers was achieved off the back of a strong and sustained member campaign in 2011-2012, when we climbed from last to 3rd in the country at the top of the salary scale. We cannot allow ACT teachers to slip back.
  • The employer has acknowledged excessive workload has “take[n] teachers away from their core role” (p.6) and that “some aspects of teachers’ work in schools may have purposes not directly related to improving student learning” (p.7) but is not prepared to find the resources that will guarantee system change in this regard. Instead, after doing virtually nothing to support the operation of school workload committees over the last few years, ETD is attempting to put forward workload committees as the saviour. “”Encouraging and supporting schools to gain TQI accreditation for their professional learning community activities” (Offer, p.6), as well as “examining” and “investigating” the increasing complexity of a teacher’s week is something that should have happened before. The employer appears to be interested in a cost-neutral exercise in spring cleaning, rather than sustainable system reform and guaranteeing protection for its teachers from burnout. The Government has rejected the AEU’s core claim for a modest reduction in face-to-face teaching hours. Nothing has altered the AEU’s resolve to secure the investment required to make this a reality.
  • For some years, the AEU has pursued a more sensible salary structure for principals. We can accept no more reviews or working parties, nor indeed “transitional arrangements” (p.13) nor promises to “develop the revised structure” (p.13) that are mooted in this offer. We need a new, functioning principal salary structure in this EA from Day 1, not eighteen months or more down the line. This part of the offer, perhaps more than any other, betrays the hurried and incomplete nature of the Government’s document.
  • The Government continues to reject the AEU’s claim, formally endorsed by the general membership and the principal membership, that all principal jobs must in the first instance go to transfer. Instead, it seeks to have all principal jobs go straight to open merit, claiming that the current transfer arrangement “impedes placement of principals with particular experience, insight and skill in schools where they are most needed”. (p.12) This statement insults every principal who seeks to access a long-standing arrangement to gain experiences and share expertise across a range of placements within our vibrant system. If principals are not suitable to be moved into a slightly different role at level it begs the question: Why isn’t the employer adequately developing their skill set? Transfer rights are important for all members to retain as a hard-won condition of employment in our system.
  • The offer is premature in the sense that a number of matters are still under negotiation and do not appear in this document. Members are now being told that if we are to achieve resource gains to support enhanced professional learning opportunities for principals, the specific needs of VET teachers, school psychologist attraction and retention or acceptable temperatures in workplaces, we will have to sacrifice other things.

Members, this offer falls well short of what this teaching workforce expects. Our recent survey results are clear. We expect to be listened to as professionals, we expect to be supported by our employer, and we expect lasting and positive change – not just spring cleaning. We know you will display your trademark strength and solidarity in the weeks ahead.

Please contact our office if you need further information or advice.

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