State strikes a deal for teachers

THE Queensland Teachers’ Union’s Central Queensland office has hailed a new deal with the Bligh Government as a significant improvement for the region’s 3000 state teachers.

The QTU council on Saturday accepted a deal that will give some Queensland teachers a place among the highest paid in the country, and will urge members to accept the offer.

The deal offers across-the-board wage increases of 12.5% over three years.

The step forward for the state’s teachers follows a protracted campaign that included strike action and advertising critical of the Labor Government.

The deal targets prospective teachers across Australia, offering graduates the highest base salary in the country and an enhanced induction program.

Nowhere was the dispute more contested than in Central Queensland, which was a key battleground as teachers battled for better conditions.

Speaking from Brisbane yesterday, QTU Central Queensland organiser Barry Thomson said Saturday’s result involved a compromise from both sides.

He said the deal, which teachers will vote on during the next two weeks, included some key improvements on what was first offered by the Government.

A new senior teacher classification will take salaries to $83,308 a year by 2011, and principals and other classified officers will receive a further 2.5% pay rise from July 2011.

Premier Anna Bligh said the new deal was pitched at students starting university, encouraging them to enrol in teaching and pursue a career in Queensland schools.

“This is a wages package that will keep our teachers from going interstate,” Ms Bligh said.

QTU president Steve Ryan said the deal did not give teachers everything they wanted, but it would pay teachers at levels commensurate with other states.

“This package delivers on that, particularly (for) beginning teachers who will be the highest paid in Australia,” Mr Ryan said.

He also welcomed a new deal for temporary teachers, which will give them access to professional development and pro rata vacation pay.

Education Minister Geoff Wilson said under changes to pay levels, teachers with 13 or more years experience would be able to apply for a promotion in a competitive process that rewards teachers who deliver.

The deal, to cost $1 billion over three years, will add to the state’s budget problems.

Ms Bligh said $900 million has been budgeted for pay increases and the remainder would have to be found.

It would go on to the bottom line of the deficit but was an investment, she said.

Opposition education spokesman Bruce Flegg said a lot of heartache could have been avoided if the Government had been more accommodating in the early stages of the negotiations.

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