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Q Vol. 8 No. 1

In this edition

HHH Members Secure Wages

QCE Staff Take Collective Action

April 2009

i I B Z

The newsletter for ELICOS & Business College sector members

HHH Members Secure Daily Rate QIEU members at HHH College recently united to campaign successfully for a daily rate of pay. Teachers were unhappy with the hourly pay rate as it did not acknowledge the hours of unpaid preparation that teachers were performing in their own time. The staff at the College were committed to working with management to improve conditions at the College. QIEU member John Lincolne said, “We choose to stay because we work with an incredible group of people, who respect each other as people and as fellow professionals. We enjoy our work, our students and the College.” The union members at HHH decided that approaching management as a group was the best way to resolve their issues. This approach ensured that all teachers had a say in the process and gave them confidence that in any perceived reproach they would not be singled out through acting alone. The members at the College sought guidance from their QIEU organiser to draft a collective letter outlining staff

concerns and asking for a genuine management around their issues.

discussion with

Teachers used email communication, meetings and one-toone networking to take feedback on a possible letter and to gather signatures once the letter was drafted. After receiving the letter signed by all staff, HHH management agreed that the daily rate would be paid. Management of the College are to be commended for their positive attitude and their alacrity in dealing with staff concerns. Union members at HHH look forward to continuing this positive dialogue into the future. Morale at the college has never been better and genuine appreciation is felt, with staff recording that appreciation to management through another letter, again signed by all teachers. If you would like more information around engaging with the management of your college around issues of concern for staff, please contact your ELICOS organiser.

QCE Staff Take Collective Action Over Health and Safety Issues

Professional Rates of Pay

New Industrial Relations Laws and You

Members at Queensland College of English (QCE) have recently taken collective action over health and safety issues in their workplace.

safe environment.

QCE is situated in an building currently undergoing significant construction work. Staff’s ability to teach was being adversely affected by noise and dust from construction as well the water and air-conditioning being turned off without notice.

ELICOS organiser.

If you would like any more information on health and safety regulations or Health and Safety Officers please contact your

Members at QCE decided to take action and approached QIEU to assist in drafting a letter to management. The letter outlined their concerns and requested that management do all they can to resolve the issues raised. One key request was that an appropriately trained health and safety officer be appointed to the College.

ELICOS Network Meeting Details

Management responded quickly and are consulting with staff to find a solution to the issues. The action taken by members and the response by management is a clear acknowledgement that employees are entitled to work in a

Growth Organiser Danielle Randall with QCE teachers Grace Blengini and Alison McMillan.


PROFESSIONAL RATES OF PAY With a new industrial relations framework allowing staff of ELICOS colleges to have a say in their pay and conditions, the search now begins for a professional rate of pay for ELICOS professionals. Currently, rates of pay in the ELICOS industry are set out in the Teachers (English Colleges) Award. This Award relies on decisions of a government body, the Fair Pay Commission, to increase wage rates to take account of increases in the cost of living. Over the past three years, a Level 12 ELICOS teacher has received the following percentage increases:

The ELICOS Award does not provide for any of these benefits. Employers in the non-government sector have not conferred these benefits on staff by chance as union members in other sectors have campaigned for these enhancements over a long period of time. Union members in sectors with collective agreements have found that three things are essential to having their voice heard in collective bargaining: •

2006 2.4%

2007 0.6%

2008 2.3%

Total (05-08) 5.3% •

A majority of union members in the workplace, so that everyone stands together and is represented as a united voice; Union members who are educated about the issues they face and potential solution; and A culture of supporting each other and standing together to make improvements.

This has moved the real wage of a top level ELICOS teacher from $47,037 in 2005 to $49,591 at the present time.

Over the same three years, teachers in Catholic schools received yearly increases of 4%, taking a top level teacher from $63,644 to $68,838. Other sectors where staff bargain collectively with their employers for pay and conditions experienced similar increases over this period.

Impending changes to Industrial Relations legislation will give ELICOS teachers increased ability to bargain collectively with employers. The onus is now on us to get organised and campaign for professional rates of pay.

A reliance on government minimum wage increases has left ELICOS teachers significantly behind community standards of wage rates. By way of comparison, the Brisbane Consumer Price Index rose 10.4% over the three year period in the above table. Teachers in education sectors with collective agreements also have access to: • • • • •

paid parental leave; enhanced superannuation payments; commitments limiting the use of short-term contracts; accelerated access to long service leave; and guidelines around expected hours of duty and contact time.

Join Your Union Today Help build strength in order to enhance the working rights and conditions of all ELICOS teachers in Queensland.

To join QIEU, download a membership form from our website or call our membership department on FREECALL 1800 177 937


The ELICOS Industry Network is a great opportunity to meet other teachers and discuss issues within our industry. Many colleges are working towards enhancements through collective action already, and a changing legislative environment means new opportunities to improve our wages and conditions. The ELICOS Industry Network meeting on 22 April 2009, will focus on how to get our colleges in a position to engage with employers about pay and conditions.

Our Industry – Our Conditions


New Industrial Relations Laws As of 1 July 2009, the Fair Work Act will replace the former Howard government’s Workplace Relations Act 1996 and will establish a new framework for workplace relations. The planned legislation will put in place a new workplace relations system built on: • • • •

the right to bargain collectively; the right to be represented by a union; protection from unfair dismissal; and a fair and comprehensive safety net of minimum employment conditions.

The Fair Work Act replaces the current Workplace Relations Act with Industrial Legislation designed to promote collective bargaining and broaden workplace rights for employees and their representatives. The new Act provides that an employee who is a member of a union will be represented by that union in collective bargaining. The advantage of being a union member, represented by a union that has industrial knowledge and bargaining power, is that it can result in better wages and conditions for all employees. Research on negotiating collective agreements through collective bargaining strongly supports obtaining better job security, improved pay and conditions, regular pay increases and better redundancy provisions. It is a well known fact that ELICOS staff are receiving poor pay and conditions compared to other teaching professionals in the nongovernment education sector.

• • • • •

Wage rates; Hours of duty; Leave entitlements; Redundancy provisions; and Professional development.

As most collective agreements in the ELICOS sector are single site agreements, meaning they only cover one employer, they can be tailored to the specific needs of a college and the employees. The new laws give employees in the ELICOS industry the ability to drive the bargaining process, alongside your union, to determine our pay and conditions. By working together, supporting each other’s issues and keeping up to date with the bargaining process, ELICOS industry members and QIEU can ensure that employees no longer need to rely on the minimum wage increases they have received in the past. Another significant gain for the ELICOS industry is that the proposed Act now includes new parameters around unfair dismissal rights for employees. Unfair dismissal rights will now be extended to workplaces with more than 15 employees and dismissals for ‘operational reasons,’ will no longer be permitted. The Act establishes Fair Work Australia to act as an independent one-stop-shop for employers and employees, providing information, advice and assistance on workplace issues, by merging the functions currently performed across seven government agencies.

The tool to close the gap and standardise wages and conditions across the non-government education sector is for staff to negotiate as a collective with the representation and assistance of the QIEU. Most importantly for ELICOS professionals, the Act now provides for an employer to be compelled to meet and bargain in good faith if over 50 per cent of employees request negotiation of a collective agreement. It also provides a framework for the members’ union to represent employees and to facilitate collective bargaining if the majority of staff want it. This is a valuable inclusion particularly for the ELICOS sector as it gives your union the ability to speak to employers about the issues that affect individual workplaces. Some of the aspects of your employment that may be covered under your collective agreement are:

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Member Snapshot Name: Jill Mason School: HHH Position: Teacher QIEU Member: Since 2008

How long have you been working in your position at HHH and why have you chosen to teach in the ELICOS sector? I arrived at HHH on 7 April 2008. I am an enthusiastic, experienced and energetic teacher. English language is my thing. I am very interested in functional communication and all genres of literature.

What do you believe are the key elements of success in approaching management about the issue of daily rates of pay? It became apparent that most staff at the college wanted these changes. So the first key element was to seek assistance from QIEU. The second element was interacting with those staff who were union members and encouraging others to get on board. The final element was building that supportive environment amongst staff with union help. I felt much supported by our organiser Nick Holliday, who was always available and accessible. We realised we didn’t have anything to lose in opening up genuine dialogue with management.

Why did you join QIEU and why is membership important to you? I joined QIEU because I am extremely passionate about striving for excellence in my role as a teacher. I believe it is important to be a member of your affiliated union, because while all positions bring responsibilities, there are also rights that attend those responsibilities. I always want to ensure that I remain as informed as possible so I can do my best to participate and contribute well in my role as a teacher in the sector.

What do you think about the new industrial relations laws? There do seem to be improvements, but I think there is still a great deficit of knowledge about the intricacies within the education sector. Education professionals need to shoulder their particluar responsibilities for improving conditions rather than relying solely on the government. What do you think about the ELICOS Industry Network? I think the EIN is a great idea and I am interested to learn more about it. Whilst acknowledging we are all part of a competive industry, we need to try to work in unified ways on those areas which are of concern to the sector in order to keep this industry relevant, vital and thriving.

QIEU GROWTH ORGANISERS QIEU is happy to announce the establishment of its ELICOS TEAM. Our new team will assist in strengthening the ELICOS sector.

Mr Nick Holliday

Ms Camille Furtado

Ms Danielle Randall

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As a member of the ELICOS Team for four years, Nick is acutely aware of the issues facing the sector and believes the new team at QIEU is well equipped to tackle the issues.“Wages and conditions have long been the top concern for union members in the ELICOS sector. Recent changes to IR laws provide an excellent opportunity for ELICOS professionals to work together to make the changes required to secure the future of our industry.”

Ms Caryl Rosser

Camille is a recent journalism and political science graduate. Both of her parents are teachers so she has a good grasp of educational issues. Camille is passionate about human rights issues and has had extensive involvement in a number of social justice projects both in Australia and overseas.“There are many improvements that can be made in the ELICOS sector and there has never been a better time to make those changes.”

Caryl is a recent graduate in behavioural sciences and human resource management. She has had extensive work experience in this area including a number of supervisory positions. Caryl is looking forward to working with education workers in the ELICOS sector, especially helping to build a collective culture.“I am enjoying getting to meet all of our members and hear their opinions regarding the current changes in the ELICOS sector.” Natalie has a background in journalism and ELICOS teaching both here and overseas. Upon completing a Bachelor of Journalism she worked for a regional Queensland newspaper. After finishing her cadetship, she worked in public relations in London and undertook further study to teach English as a second language.“Having worked as an ELICOS teacher I have a deep understanding of the issues that teachers face in this sector.”

Ms Natalie Zemaitis Danielle started working in the QIEU call centre when it was established last year. She enjoys talking to education workers about the issues that concerns them. Danielle has a strong interest in education policy and has worked for a state member of parliament. She is excited by her new role and looks forward to working towards collective agreements in the ELICOS industry. “I look forward to listening to the issues ELICOS workers face and helping to find resolutions.”

ISSN 1446-8964 QBiZ was prepared by Nick Holliday, Natalie Zematis, Camille Furtado, Danielle Randall, Caryl Rosser and Belinda Hogan-Collis Editor: Mr Terry Burke, General Secretary QIEU PO BOX 418, FORTITUDE VALLEY QLD 4006 PH: (07) 3839 7020 FX: (07) 3839 7021 Email: Website: ABN: 45 620 218 172


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