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New EBA in Victoria

Discussion in 'Australia - Staffroom' started by Christopher Curtis, Mar 27, 2017.

  1. Christopher  Curtis

    Christopher Curtis Occasional commenter

    Someone should get the ball rolling, so I’ll post a few remarks on the Enterprise Bargaining Agreement the Australian Education Union has just made with the Victorian government. The EBA is the most significant one with teachers in 35 years. The significance is that it provides promotion positions for the best classroom teachers to stay in the classroom. The 1982 one is more significant because it set out decent teaching and learning conditions for the first time in Victoria, conditions that were abolished in 1992 and that the AEU does not even bother to try to get back nowadays.

    The AEU is claiming a great victory, as it always does, but it is nothing of the sort. There are four key aspects of any agreement – salaries, career structure, security of employment and workload. There was a positive result on the first three, but the AEU had nothing to do with it.

    The AEU asked for 21 per cent increase in pay over three years and settled for 3.25 per cent a year for four years. This is a good result as it is about twice the CPI increases and thus a real increase, but it is what the government always offers (apart from in 2008, when teachers at the top of the scale got a $10,000 increase) and what the union always accepts in the end. The top unpromoted teacher salary will go from $94,961 now to $98,047 immediately and $108,003 in 2020. (You can roughly half the dollars to turn them into pounds sterling on a purchasing price parity basis.)

    The government will introduce some 3,000 learning specialists. These are classroom teachers who will be paid the same as leading teachers, who take on administrative jobs for extra pay. This was not an AEU victory, but a government election promise:

    “Labor will: …

    • Reward outstanding teachers with incentives to stay in the classroom in a full teaching role and to share their expertise with other teachers and mentor student teachers and beginning teachers.” (p29, Labor platform 2014)

    This issue was first raised in a green paper in about 1979. Governments on three occasions said they had done something to implement this idea, but they lied. Every pointless career restructure since the 1990s has required teachers to take on administrative duties for significant additional pay. This is the first time that significant extra pay will go to teachers who do not take on administrative positions but who are exemplary teachers who will take their classes and mentor colleagues. It is a fantastic initiative by a government that is determined to change education in this state.

    The government will make a substantial reduction in the number of teachers on short-term contracts. This too is an election promise, not an AEU victory:

    “Labor will: …

    • Minimise the use of contracts and short term positions for teachers “(p29, Labor platform 2014)

    The AEU caved in on workload, so the maximum weekly teaching load of 20 hours for secondary teachers remains higher than it was in my first school in the 1970s, and the primary load of 22.5 hours remains higher than it was in the 1980s, while the class size limits of between 21 (prep to year 2), 26 (as an average in each primary school) and 25 (years 7 to 12) are subject to flexibility provisions rather than being strictly adhered to as they were in the 1980s. There is also an indexing provision that can reduce the maximum teaching load in secondary schools, but using it can simply increase the teaching loads of those teachers with leadership responsibilities. In other words, it just shifts the burden.

    Teachers will be given four days out of classes a year for planning and assessment, but that is the equivalent of only a 24-minute reduction in teaching loads per week and the preparation and correction for those 24 minutes remains with the teacher. There is also a rather strange clause that says, “A teacher with face to face teaching scheduled at the maximum (as set out in clause 22(4(b)) will be provided with 30 hours of time to undertake the work directly related to the teaching and learning program of their class(es) (such as face-to-face teaching, planning, preparation, assessment of student learning, collaboration, professional development, and peer observation including feedback and reflection) with the remaining 8 hours available for other activities (such as yard duty, meetings, other duties and lunch).” The full implications of this section are not clear.

    Secondary schools used to have a time allowance pool for administrative roles, such as subject coordination, level coordination, timetabling and so on. It was 90 minutes per teacher in the 1980s. The Coalition government abolished it completely in 1992. The AEU got it back at 70 minutes per teacher from the Labor government in 2000 and then, amazingly, agreed to its abolition in 2004. The AEU no longer even bothers to put it in as an ambit claim.

    Some teachers will vote against the EBA because it does nothing to reduce their teaching loads or their class sizes, but the decades of experience tell us that whatever the union recommends, 80 per cent or more will vote for. I can’t see it being any different this time.
  2. Christopher  Curtis

    Christopher Curtis Occasional commenter

    As predicted, more than 80 per cent of teachers voted for the EBA. In fact, 87 per cent of teachers and support staff voted in favour of the deal. If you think this means teachers will stop complaining about their workloads, you are mistaken.
    kazzakat934 likes this.

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