Hervey Bay school disrupted as staff strike
NIKENBAH'S Carinity Education Glendyne said "misleading union campaign" was behind a strike which disrupted a Hervey Bay school for four hours yesterday.
About 8 members of the school's workforce walked off the job over proposed cuts to staff entitlements which they claim would cut long service leave, superannuation co-contribution and redundancy provisions.
However the school maintains the opposition is "bewildering" as they have been negotiating in good faith.
Classes were disrupted as teachers and support workers picketed the front of the school with signs reading "Carinity show you care" at noon however Carinity Education Glendyne insisted the school did not "close".
It's the third time employees have gone on strike due to ongoing enterprise bargaining disputes with the Queensland Baptists' outreach school.
Twice the staff have voted against their conditions and previous strikes have lasted two hours.
Therapeutic youth worker Deagan Bunting, who was one of several workers who gathered at the front of the school, said it was "frustrating" to see the situation dragged out over such a long period of time.
"We want it to be over. We'd prefer to be in class with the kids, doing what we do every day," Mr Bunting said.
"But it feels like we're not being heard at the moment.
"We have made it clear we do not want to go backwards in our agreement yet Carinity still want to (allegedly) strip our conditions which is why we feel we have to strike.
"Striking today is money out of our pockets we will not be paid, just like all the previous strikes."
Mr Bunting claimed that after each negotiation his employer planned cuts to standard working conditions.
"It's almost like punishment for voting 'no' the first time so they cut more, I can't understand it," he said.
"Things like domestic violence leave and natural disaster leave. I know of one staff member close to retirement which the super contribution will affect."
A Carinity spokesperson said staff were infact being offered an increase in salary of between 8.5 and 10 per cent over the life of the three-year agreement.
Staff action against the school started in mid-2016 when workers voted against proposed changes to their work conditions.
Independent Education Union organiser Richard Pascoe said there was no reason for Carinity to make the cuts.
"Last week we met, we suggested we take it to arbitration rather than continue with industrial action, and for whatever reason, the employer said they're not interested in that," Mr Pascoe said.
"The teachers' primary focus is working with students. "They want to see the best for their students."
A Carinity spokesman said they were negotiating an enterprise agreement with staff.
"Carinity's employees enjoy salary and conditions well above the award and staff are being invited to vote on further substantial increases for the future," the spokesperson said.
"Next year Carinity celebrates 70 years of community service which is a testament to the respect and care we have for our staff, and we will continue to negotiate to achieve an outcome that benefits our students and our staff."