FIGHT FOR RIGHTS: Paul Waters, Queensland Teachers Union North Queensland organiser, before the Labour Day march in Mackay on May 6.
FIGHT FOR RIGHTS: Paul Waters, Queensland Teachers Union North Queensland organiser, before the Labour Day march in Mackay on May 6. Emma Murray

Why our teachers are prepared to strike

BETWEEN 85-90 per cent of state school teachers across the Mackay region are preparing to strike on July 18 if an agreement is not reached about their award before it expires on June 30.

Queensland Teachers Union members have been directed to stop work on Thursday, July 18 - the first week back from school holidays - for 24 hours.

The decision was made via ballots returning more than 30,000 votes in favour of a stoppage.

Negotiations between the State Government and the QTU have slowed down on four issues of contention:

. the establishment of a new classification structure for promotional positions with salaries commensurate with the value of the role and comparable to similar positions interstate

. mechanisms and conditions to address workload for teachers, heads of program and school leaders

. conditions to address gender employment inequity

. salaries for members comparable to interstate colleagues.

QTU organiser and former Mackay North State High School teacher, Paul Waters said 94 per cent of its members refused to waver on these issues.

Lead QTU representative at Mirani State High School Callum Morrison said changing the classification structure for 'promotional roles' - principals, deputy principals, heads of department, heads of curriculum and heads of special education - was overdue.

"The complexity of these roles have grown exponentially over the past few years and the responsibilities have also grown," Mr Morrison said.

"For example, a deputy principal at a state school makes about a third of what a deputy principal at a private school makes. It's time to re-examine this classification structure."

Regarding the conditions of workload claim, Mr Waters formerly a Mackay North SHS teacher said teachers were currently being underpaid when it came to rostered hours.

"Teachers are currently paid under an award that remunerates for a rostered 25 hours a week. Anyone who is a teacher or knows a teacher, knows those rostered hours in no way represent what these positions actually work," Mr Waters said.

"In fact our teachers on average work a 45-hour work week and at the busier times of the year when they are recording grades it can be up to 60 hours."

Mr Waters said, that while about 75 per cent of teachers in Queensland were women they were still receiving salaries 10% less than their male counterparts.

"This is due to the fact that men hold the majority of promotional positions in schools and this is because Education Queensland is less likely to entertain flexible working arrangements for working mothers," Mr Waters said.

"The incremental scale requirements also work against working mothers who opt to work part-time. For example, it takes a period of three years full-time to become a senior teacher and be paid accordingly. If you work part-time it takes five years."

"These teachers do the same professional development and should be eligible for senior teaching pay on calendar year not hours spent within a classroom."

Mr Morrison said the issue of gender inequity was something he is passionate about.

 

Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert was a former QTU Organiser for Mackay.
Member for Mackay Julieanne Gilbert was a former QTU Organiser for Mackay. Michaela Harlow

"We have a female state representative in Mackay, we have a female premier, yet they're resistant to attack the issues of pay inequity for women in education. I just don't think that's good enough," Mr Morrison said.

On the issue for teaching salaries comparable to other states within Australia, Mr Waters said it was not a huge ask and as an example he cited the top-tier teaching wage in Queensland was $101,000 and the top-tier teaching wage in Australia was in Western Australia at $105,000.

"Nationally, teaching wages should be commensurate in an effort to retain high-quality teachers in Queensland," Mr Waters said.

While negotiations in Brisbane would be ongoing until June 30, Mr Waters said they had slowed down considerably and the sticking points were the aforementioned issues.

Mackay MP Julieanne Gilbert said negotiations between State Government and the QTU were continuing and often.

"The goal is to reach an agreement before the current award expires on June 30. That would be a good outcome for all of the teachers and they would not have to be a concern for them over the school holidays," Mrs Gilbert said.

"Local teachers have spoke to me mostly about pay classification of promotional roles. The classification structure is an addition to the current agreement and I this will take a bit of time to nut out.

"The gender inequity issues have not been raised with me as of yet with any local teachers and because of this I would have to do more research before I can comment on the issue.

"The pay rises are part of the ongoing negotiations and we have some excellent teachers in our region here that give 110 per cent and I hope that we can reach an agreement that satisfies all parties."