14 March 2007

Teacher's pay resolved for now

| johnboy
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The ABC reports that Andrew Barr is declaring agreement has been reached over teacher’s pay going forward.

Despite some teachers being palpably better than others they’re all going to get guaranteed pay rises over the next two and a half years.

The final deal features an 11.5 per cent pay rise over three years.

Education Minister Andrew Barr says graduate teachers coming into the ACT system will be the highest paid in the country under the deal.

So, 18 months until the next wrangle, why, that’s after the election isn’t it? Clever.

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You have my assurance that I won’t go on strike for a payrise.

And if it does happen, well July 08 is the last payrise for this “current” EBA.

Who wants to put money on teachers threatening to go on strike for a payrise next year ?

Unfortunately, I’ve got serious compassion fatigue. Since all it seems teachers and nurses do with their spare time is whinge and bitch and organise attending the occasional lefty rally with the children under their care, they’ve become institutionally reliable to predict.

More accurate in my estimation than the amount of audited copies of the recycling bin fodder that gets put in my letterbox every week.

smiling politely12:25 pm 16 Mar 07

Table 12 is titled “Table 12. Average Weekly Cash Earnings (a) – Sector and composition (May 2006, May 2004 and May 2002)” and doesn’t seem to have the data you refer to. But it doesn’t really matter in this instance – the point you made about a significant difference between the two figures still stands, as does mine about how the difference might be reasonably considered to be so marked (and thank you for the acknowledgement in your responding post).

Both your view and that of Thumper’s have some degree of merit to them. To be better informed though it would be useful to get some broader information about AWAs, particularly a) the difference for employees who take up an AWA compared to their previous award agreements, particularly those in lower income bands; and b) any trend data about the sorts of entitlements and benefits that are being used and disposed of. Unfortunately, following a decision made last year the relevant part of the DEWR portfolio no longer collates this data for public dissemination.

I, personally, believe that for low-skilled workers with little bargaining power that AWAs are not desirable – it would be better for them (and their households) to be in a better position to negotiate. A position that I suggest collective action *may* be more likely to provide – points about the effectiveness or otherwise of various unions and union officials notwithstanding. Thanks for the discussion.

neanderthalsis10:18 am 16 Mar 07

Smiling politely,
if you check table 12 in that document and compare the totals for full time registered individual agreements against the award only average weekly total cash earnings, the difference is $511.

And yes, individual agreements are more prevalent in the higher income bands and those people are often in a greater position to negotiate a better package, but teachers are normally intelligent, highly educated creatures and could easily negotiate an individual contract instead of pandering to the whims of the union and the Labor flunkeys in the Education Department.

I was previously employed at award rates in the Adult Education sector, but for the last 3 years have been on individual agreements and earning close to double my previous award rate. In the current climate of skills shortages, those whose skills are in high demand, can easily negotiate a premium rate.

VYBerlinaV8 now_with_added grunt9:18 am 16 Mar 07

So the individuals are still better off right?

Collective agreements are fine for unskilled labouring jobs (and yes, I did my share of these while at school and uni), but for anyone in a semi-skilled or skilled job, I think they do little more than protect the useless. The good employees suffer as a result.

smiling politely5:42 pm 15 Mar 07

neanderthalis – “…Indeed the May 2006 ABS Employee Earnings and Hours showed that workers on individual agreements earned, on average, $511 more per week than those on award wages.”

I suggest that this significant monetary difference may be less to do with the merits or otherwise of individual employment agreements. It may merely reflect the situation whereby individual employment agreements tend to be used more by people in higher income bands – senior members of the public service and those working in the mining industry as two areas that come immediately to mind.

ABS product no. 6306.0 in May 2006 appears to be the source you refer to – please correct me if I’m wrong. Table 10 of this publication has a $460.90 difference between average weekly earnings for people on the award only and those on registered individual agreements. By comparison, the difference between the latter group and earnings for people on a registered collective agreement is $78.40 per week more for individuals.

Link as I have no web-fu: http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/DetailsPage/6306.0May%202006?OpenDocument

tristero, I worked in a Non-Govt school and did 21 hours a week with 7 classes out of 8.

I don’t give a rats about 22hrs 40mins.

It was scare mongering by the AEU which led to the drawn out process in the first place.

As for the 19hrs, the arbitrator decided on that because, according to hard data, ACT teachers worked less face to face hours than anyone else in Australia. He also put it in so that DET and the ACT Govt couldn’t demand 22hrs 40mins.

VYBerlinaV8 now_with_added grunt4:12 pm 15 Mar 07

It could be made to work if there was a minimum level that someone could be paid, per class per week, say. Then allow principals to hire part time and full time teachers based on need and availability.

Well currently the federales are proposing stupid centralised grading regimes because they’re captive to the bureaucracy here that loves stupid centralised systems.

But giving principals a budget based on their numbers of students, freeing up parents to enrol their children in any school they want, and then let the principals hire and pay teachers what they’re worth to them would solve a lot of problems.

VYBerlinaV8 now_with_added grunt3:55 pm 15 Mar 07

Of course defining a good teacher is hard – doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give some thought to the characteristics of a good teacher, and try to measure them.

I think it’s important to recognise that there is a difference between the aim of the activity (rating teachers) and how it will be done (metrics). To say it shouldn’t be done because it may not be easy is, really, a bit of a cop out.

Absent Diane3:49 pm 15 Mar 07

how do you judge a good teacher…consistently good marks? I remember a teacher that gave everyone b’s for the year even though none of us did any work? Defining a good teacher is hard.

VYBerlinaV8 now_with_added grunt3:41 pm 15 Mar 07

Whether or not you ‘need’ to be in a union is dependant entirely on your job and your potential value to prospective and current employers.

I agree with neanderthalsis in that the fear-mongering over work choices means that lots of people forget that they might be a lot better off negotiating individually, especially those who are genuinely good at their jobs.

Should teachers be on a standard wage? Hell no – let employers pay the good ones more!

(And let the crap ones lift their game or get the hell out).

At the end of the day when you look at it its fairly piss poor pay rise lol. I reckon the Govt is going to want to use that arbitrator again next time. Basically you didn’t get a pay rise at all you just barely got a default cost of living increase.

However anti I am towards the cosy relationship between ALP and unions, and however disgusted I am with unions continually selling out members, I still maintain that a collective agreement, negotiated by unions, is better than individual AWAs.

The simple reason is that, even when unions do sell out members, the result is better than it would be if members were set against each other through individual negotiations.

My great concern is that unions seem to do more selling out to ALP governments than Lib governments.

neanderthalsis12:16 pm 15 Mar 07

So a Union makes another substandard deal that essentially sells short their paying members and panders to the incumbent Labor Government. Yet another case of politics clearly distorting what could well have been a successful outcome for teachers.

If teachers chose to forsake the Unionised Award negotiations and opt instead for AWAs they would, no doubt be far better off. Indeed the May 2006 ABS Employee Earnings and Hours showed that workers on individual agreements earned, on average, $511 more per week than those on award wages.

Individual agreements would allow higher quality teachers to be rewarded for their effort and encourage others to lift their game. In an industry with chronic skills shortages, AWAs put the bargaining power into the hands of the teachers, not the Unionised Labor stooges not wanting to upset the party and miss pre-selection at the next election.

With all the Labor / Union scaremongering over work choices, most people have failed to see how it could potentially benefit them.

And 3…2…1… begin the left wing, Labor, anti-workchoice onslaught.

Kirk and Nyssa: The arbitration was for the points not agreed upon by both parties that were holding up negotiations: pay increase, whether working hours should be included in the workplace agreement, and if hours should be included, what they should be.

The employer argued hours should not be included, but claimed that if the decision to include them was made, they should be set at 22hrs 40mins! The arbiter set the hours at 19 per week face to face for secondary teachers. And yes, many schools have set up an ‘internal relief’ situation. It will be interesting to see how relief lessons are covered when the next big flu passes through and takes out 1/4 to 1/3 the staff in a school. Relief teachers are already difficult to find at short notice.

The union executive agreed to support the result of arbitration; thus include it in the proposed agreement and encourage members to support the outcome. Much discussion was had by union members in relation to this, and whether to support the agreement as a whole.

If the vote returned a ‘no’ there was the suggestion that as the face to face teaching hours are not set in past agreements, ACT teachers could suddenly be required to teach face to face greater than 19 hours. It really was a damned if you don’t/do situation.

As per law, all employees must vote on the content of the whole agreement (a 135 page document). The vote was not just for the result of the arbitration, but for the whole, detailed, document.

Queen Vic: Your comment makes no sense. Looking after your members is not extending negotiations so that employees don’t see a pay rise for more than two years after the previous agreement has expired. The cost of living continues to rise, don’t forget that.

Yes I’m a teacher in the public system. Yes I am an ACT AEU member. The situation isn’t anywhere near as black and white as some riotact members would have you believe. eg. Some posters around here think that the ‘union leaders’ make decisions without consulting members (when in fact individual schools hold elections for their personal reps, who attend monthly council meetings, who vote on the direction the union executive take). Yes, some sub-branch (school) reps are better than others. If a workplace finds they have a self-serving rep who does not represent their views they need to get involved in the yearly school based elections and ensure they elect a team who will act as representatives for all members in the school. (Yes, this is an ‘in a perfect’ world argument, I know there are flaws and that the ‘real world’ is not always like this. )

Am I completely happy with the current agreement after all we went through? No. But I do feel that in the current political climate, taking into account the rulings of an independent arbiter who regardless of the outcome resolved a deadlock, this is not as bad as it could have been.

Just a note – I realise the difference between unions (AUE and CPSU), it was more a question of how widespread this allegiance actually is.

That’s ok, in order to meet the 19hrs, high school teachers will have to take on 6 classes (out of 7).

Atm they’re all doing in-built relief to make up the hours – like teachers have nothing else to do.

The Arbitration was final so I too didn’t understand the need for the AEU vote. They even sent me a voting slip – which I promptly tore up and threw in the bin.

GnT, I will agree with you over the back pay. For those who don’t know, it’s from Dec 2006 and not from the end of the last EBA (March 2006).

I’m glad I’m not paying AEU fees.

Just a note Louise – the union in question is the AEU (Australian Education Union), not the CPSU

It is very odd that a union reaches a deal that tides the incumbent ALP government over until after the next election, particularly since the CPSU has recently joined/affiliated with the ALP.

Not sure whose interests we’re talking about here.

The biggest rip off is the lack of back pay. Teachers have gone more than a year without a pay rise because they refused to accept the first offer. This sets a dangerous precedent – you’d better accept the first paltry offer because if you fight it and drag it out with industrial action, you are guaranteed to be worse off.

queen_vic_toria_II1:14 pm 14 Mar 07

Another tale of unions that arn’t really there to look after their members. If the Teachers Union had any smarts whatsoever, they would have tided this over (somehow) to the election next year and really made it an issue. The teachers are really the losers here and that is disappointing!

James-T-Kirk1:05 pm 14 Mar 07

Pretty funny that it needed a *vote* – I thought that it was an ARBITRATION DECISION – and that both parties AGREED TO AN ABRITRATION DECISION…

In any case, I agree that they settled for far too little – Sad when you think about it – but that’s what you get when you let some other person determine your conditions for you.

Also, 11.5 percent over 3 years that’s only 3.83 percent per year – that’s not that much of an increase considering how hideously underpaid they have been. I’m sure within the next few months the other states will be up for renegotiation, and will again surpass the ACT teachers salaries.

I believe that while ACT teachers will have one of the highest teachers salaries in the country, they will also have the highest class hours in the country. I am wondering whether this will see a decline in ACT education standards, as teachers resort to more textbook lessons as they are pressured for time to prepare lessons?

I’m pretty suprised at the support it got in a vote. A lot of teachers I know weren’t too happy about it.

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