Member Bulletin 3 2018 – teacher EA

AEU NT Member Bulletin 3/2018

In this bulletin:

  • EA offer for teachers

Last week the Office of the Commissioner for Public Employment (OCPE) made a formal offer to the AEU NT for a new enterprise agreement for teachers.

This offer was tabled at our Branch Executive meeting last Thursday. Executive consists of 18 members including representatives from every region. Executive voted to endorse the offer and recommend it our annual Branch Conference.

Our Conference was attended by more than 100 sub-branch delegates as well as members of Executive. After questions and debate, Conference voted overwhelmingly to give in-principle support to the offer.

Why did we endorse the offer?
It was the view of the AEU bargaining team, and ultimately Executive and Conference, that the offer is the best we can achieve for members in the current political and economic climate. It contains solid pay increases, improvements in a number of areas – especially job security – and, with one exception, does not require existing employees to give up any conditions.[1] The only reduction in conditions for future employees is that the NT Allowance (valued at $960 per annum) will not be part of their conditions of employment, however the OCPE have stated that savings generated from grandfathering this allowance will fund improvements in paid parental leave that are part of the new agreement.

A full summary of the improvements and salary and allowance increases is included in the attached fact sheet. The key points are: 

  • 2.5% pay increases each year for four years, making NT classroom teachers the best paid in the country.
  • A new method of converting teachers to permanent status provides greater job security.
  • More of your working conditions are included or referenced in the agreement than before, providing stronger protections. This includes things like transfers, study leave and pathways to permanency.

In the past the AEU has endorsed industrial action including strikes to try to force concessions from the government. However, on this occasion we do not believe that such a strategy will be successful, for several reasons.

  • The Government’s budgetary position is poor and thus its ability to fund additional improvements is extremely limited (e.g. declining population, GST share, federal funding).
  • There is not an obvious unifying issue that would unite members.
  • The Government has announced that its pay offer will decline from 2.5% to 2% for unions that have not completed bargaining by October. An industrial campaign would take months to have an effect, and we would likely leave money on the table.

What is the process from here?
While there are still some details to be discussed with the Commissioner and the Department of Education, the union will now commence a process of formally recommending this offer to all members.

As we are a democratic organisation, every financial member will have the opportunity to be involved in this next step.

Union officers have commenced the process of arranging for regional and sub-branch meetings to take place and receive a report and recommendation from the President, Secretary or another Branch officer, and in turn to formally vote on whether or not to accept the offer. The union office will tally the votes from all meetings and provide those figures to the Commissioner.

If a majority of members endorses the offer, we will advise the Commissioner as much and instruct members to vote YES in the subsequent electronic ballot of all employees, which will likely be held before the end of the term.

Stay tuned for the details of meetings to discuss the offer. Only financial members of the union may attend and vote at these meetings – new members may attend so long as they formally apply for membership before the meetings commence.

When will I receive my pay increase?
Any pay increase will likely not take effect for several months. The official employee ballot must still take place, and the proposed agreement must then be submitted to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) for approval. This may take some time.

Once the agreement is approved by FWC, pay increases will take effect. We certainly hope the pay increases will take effect within the next few months.

What about back pay?
Pay increases will be backdated to last October, meaning eligible employees will receive a lump sum back payment. Only those who are employed at the time the agreement comes into effect will be eligible. This means, for example, if a teacher is on a six-month contract that finishes in June (i.e. their employment with DoE ceases), and the pay increases do not take effect until August, this teacher will not receive the backdated increase.

Further information

# With the exception of employees at Centralian Senior College, whose flexibility allowance will be removed under this offer. OCPE argues that these employees are not performing the duties that justify receipt of this allowance. The AEU is continuing to negotiate on behalf of our members at CSC.