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Union Sticks To Lockout Claim

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IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke (Photo: IEUA)

November 26, 2019

The union representing teachers in Queensland Catholic schools has doubled down on its allegation that staff involved in an ongoing enterprise bargaining dispute face lockouts at their schools.

A statement released by the Independent Education Union of Australia – Queensland and Northern Territory (IEUA-QNT) on Tuesday said claims by Queensland Catholic school employers of no potential lockout of teachers and support staff were “inaccurate”.

The union said a communication by the Director of the Toowoomba Catholic Education Office, Dr Pat Coughlan, sent to teachers and support staff on Monday “provided an accurate description of the employer proposed action”.

Dr Coughlan wrote: “The notices simply mean that if a staff member is considering participating in a partial work ban, such as refusing to do rostered duties, that person is not required at work on that day, and will not be paid.”

IEUA-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said not being required at work and not being paid was “a lockout”.

“The only part Dr Coughlan has left out is that under the legislation the ‘not required at work and not being paid’ continues until the bans are ceased,” Mr Burke said.

“That means having undertaken a single ban the ‘not required at work and not being paid’ continues indefinitely – until the bans end.

“Queensland Catholic school employers themselves in a separate communication to all staff early yesterday (Monday) concede that they are refusing to accept the partial performance of duties.

“The Fair Work Act 2009 (Act) is quite clear on the consequences of such employer action.

“The employers in invoking Section 471(4) of the Fair Work Act 2009 are refusing to ‘accept the performance of any work by the employee until the employee is prepared to perform all of his or her normal duties’.

“This means an employee would not and cannot perform any work whatsoever for the employer during this time.

“In the alternative, the employer would have it that the employee would be working without pay – the Act does not allow this to happen.

“Clearly Queensland Catholic school employers do not understand the Act or the provision within the Act they are invoking.

“The employer action would mean that employees undertaking the work bans would be excluded from work and effectively from the school site.

“By any reasonable understanding, what the employers are proposing is a lockout: a lockout of employees from their duties; a lockout of employees from their pay; a lockout of employees from their classrooms; if not a lockout of employees from their schools,” Mr Burke said.

The teachers have been taking part in protected industrial action in support of enterprise bargaining claims after negotiations broke down.

Up until now, the action has consisted of work bans and a 30-minute stop work meeting.

Two South Burnett schools – St Patrick’s Primary School in Nanango and St Mary’s Catholic College in Kingaroy – are among 195 across Queensland where the industrial action has been authorised.

* * *

The IEUA-QNT launched a petition on Tuesday calling on Queensland Catholic school employers to:

  • Immediately withdraw their threat to lock out their employees undertaking lawful work bans;
  • Uphold established Catholic Church teachings regarding the dignity of the worker to be free from threats, coercion and duress; and
  • Bargain in good faith with Catholic school employees to resolve remaining issues of workload and wage parity.

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