Agreement averts strike action

UPDATE: A 24-hour teacher strike later this month has been cancelled after teachers reached an in-principle agreement for 2.7% a year pay increases and protected class sizes.

Queensland Teachers' Union members must now go to a ballot to decide whether they accept the three-year agreement which has followed a lengthy pay dispute.

The union, in an email to members on Wednesday morning, recommended teachers accept the offer which has been made through the Queensland Industrial Relations Commission.

The "newsflash" said the union accepted the salary increase fell short of what it should be but it had accepted the reality of the political and industrial situation.

QTU president Kevin Bates said on Wednesday he expected teachers would give the proposal "serious consideration" and ballot results would be collated by early November.

"I don't think there's any cause for celebration in this except to say that it means we can get on with the job of teaching," he said. "Teachers will look at this, weigh up the pros and cons for themselves and they will vote ... on whether they accept this."

Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek said the outcome was the result of three months of intense negotiations since the last Enterprise Bargaining Agreement expired on June 30.

The State Government has agreed to retain teaching and learning conditions in enforceable industrial instruments and a remote area incentive scheme.

A freeze on beginning teachers' salaries has been removed.

"The only condition which has been lost involves job security for employees and this was removed by the government through a change to the legislation that affects the entire public service," the union "newsflash" said. "Class size targets and school-based management guarantees, including the teacher transfer and relocation systems and remote area incentives, will remain protected by the certified agreement.

"Clauses that have been removed from the agreement, such as parental leave, remain protected in the award which underpins the agreement.

"Issues such as conversion to permanency and Independent Public Schools will be covered by memoranda of agreement negotiated between the QTU and the Department of Education, Training and Employment."
The QTU said the government would oppose any interim increase if the dispute went to arbitration and the dispute could drag on until 2014.

"It is clear that if the case went to arbitration, it would not be before a full bench of the QIRC until possibly July or August next year," the union said.

"Given the likelihood of a protracted arbitration, a final decision would not be reached until well into 2014 with no chance of retrospectivity.

"There is no guarantee we would maintain teaching conditions in an arbitrated settlement, and so would be likely to lose some conditions from the current certified agreement.