Council Accepts Government's Third Offer
After a lengthy and vigorous debate, Council voted for in-principle acceptance of the Government's latest offer.
While we have not achieved our claim for a reduction in face-to-face teaching hours, the collective judgment was that it is the best deal we can obtain at this time. We should be proud of councillors for making a tough call but one that needed to be made.
The new agreement will deliver tangible resources to reduce teacher workload. The equivalent of nearly 60 additional school assistants will be employed across the system. That will mean each school will have between 500 and 900 hours of administrative relief each year.
The new agreement will mean the employer will be contractually committed to a new definition of the core role of a teacher. This explicitly identifies a set of tasks we will not do: packing, stocktaking and moving equipment and furniture; cleaning and maintenance of facilities, furniture and equipment; procurement of resources, including ICT; photocopying; grant submissions; weekend events and weekend professional learning. Our involvement in a range of activities like excursions, camps, events, reports and student welfare must be limited to their educational aspects.
The employer has committed in writing to ensuring we are allowed to focus exclusively on educating our students. We intend to hold the employer to its word, and they will report to us every three months.
This negotiation has occurred in a tough environment, one coloured by the blow to the ACT budget caused by the Mr Fluffy asbestos crisis and the attacks on Commonwealth public servants. Despite all that, the strength of our union has meant we have achieved a better salary increase than any other ACT public servants. We have maintained our position as the third highest paid jurisdiction in the country. Across the country, very few groups of workers are winning 3% per annum pay increases at the moment.
Counter to Minister Burch’s hostile and unnecessary threat to withdraw back-pay, it has been restored almost entirely. That significant lump sum will be delivered to you in coming weeks.
I will provide a comprehensive outline of all this agreement delivers against our full suite of claims, in due course. However, two recently achieved outcomes are also worth noting now. We have increased the number of psychologists in our system by 4 full-time equivalent positions, meaning more students who need support will get it when they need it. Principals have a commitment to minimum 3% per annum salary increases and a review of the remuneration structure, to be implemented in 2017. The word ‘well-being’ appears in an agreement for the first time.
I acknowledge genuinely felt disappointment that we could not achieve more. The judgment we have made is that persevering now would have gained little, if anything, and could have been counter-productive. Every member should be proud of what we have done to improve our working lives and improve our schools.
I would like to acknowledge the incredible commitment of Branch Executive, of Councillors and of Sub-branch leaders during this campaign. This core group of highly committed colleagues have given so much time and energy for the benefit of us all. It is because of your selflessness that we have won tangible improvements in the lives of all educators and students in the ACT.
As indicated by the Director-General in her email this morning, the drafting process will be completed in coming weeks prior to the proposed agreement going to a ballot of all teachers and school leaders.
We will all have a role in the implementation of a new agreement and ensuring that the benefits on paper are fully realised in practice.