The Guardian June 18, 2003

Queensland teachers hit with wage freeze

Following a Beattie Government budget that dudded state schools, 
Queensland teachers are considering seeking a federal award after the 
Government last week used flaws in state laws to impose a wage freeze on 
them for at least 18 months.

The Queensland Teachers' Union (QTU) is also considering appealing against 
an Industrial Relations Commission decision which allowed the Government to 
freeze salaries. The wage freeze comes on top of the State Government's 
refusal to address class sizes in state schools, which has resulted in at 
least 50,000 students learning in crowded conditions.

Teachers have not received a wage rise since April last year. They will now 
not be able to gain an increase until after the current enterprise 
bargaining dispute is arbitrated later this year.

The QTU sought an interim wage rise in the Industrial relations Commission 
pending the outcome of arbitration. The Government opposed the interim 
increase and the Commission decided against granting the rise.

"The Government has refused to negotiate, tried to stop teachers 
campaigning on class sizes and stripped teachers of their legitimate right 
to take strike action", said Ms McCullough. "Teachers refused to accept the 
Government's pay offer earlier this year as it was not accompanied by 
commitments to reduce class sizes and help Queensland students." Now they 
have stopped an interim pay rise.

The QTU said the Beattie Government had also frozen state school funding in 
real terms for four years in last month's budget.

"Our priorities are to secure class size reductions and additional 
resources to deal with student behaviour. Extra teachers above those 
already agreed to must be employed to help lower class size maximum targets 
which are woefully outdated", said Ms McCullough.

"If the Government refuses to move, teachers will pursue all industrial 
options to escape Queensland's laws, including potentially seeking access 
to federal laws."

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