Independent Education Union of Australia Ipswich organiser Craig Darlington. Photo: Cordell Richardson
Independent Education Union of Australia Ipswich organiser Craig Darlington. Photo: Cordell Richardson

Schools will be thrown into chaos if teachers ‘locked out’

AN UNPRECEDENTED lockout of Catholic school teachers across the state could be catastrophic for Ipswich schools in the final days of the term.

Teachers and employers are locked in a dispute over wages and workload, with teachers having taken industrial action in the form of work bans this month.

The Independent Education Union of Australia said Queensland Catholic school employers have become the "first Catholic school employer in Australia" to threaten to lock staff out if work bans are not halted by 5pm today.

Section 471 (4) of the Fair Work Act notes any staff member considering participating in a partial work ban is not required at work on that day and will not be paid.

Queensland's Catholic school employers confirmed a notice in accordance with that section would be issued tomorrow and come into effect on Friday if an agreement couldn't be reached.

IEUA Ipswich organiser Craig Darlington said the union was seeking approval of members to go to the Fair Work Commission to undertake a mediation process.

"The bans were to show the employers … that our members were serious about trying to get some resolution of the outstanding issues and to force them back to the negotiation table," he said.

"At some of our schools, we have 70 or 80 per cent of employees as members of our union. If they were to lock out members, the effects on the schools would not be able to operate between now and the end of the school year.

"For the past 30 years, we have had dollar for dollar parity with our state colleagues (in the form of a one-off payment). If we lose that dollar for dollar parity now we will never regain it and our members will be disadvantaged into the future."

Queensland Catholic Education Commission executive director Dr Lee-Anne Perry disputed the claims of a lockout.

"Employers are not preventing staff from coming to work," she said.

"What employers have said is that if negotiations are not finalised or the union does not lift current work bans then employers intend to exercise their right under the Fair Work Act to withhold payment for days when employees don't carry out their full duties."