The QTU gives high priority to giving its school leader members the best possible legal protection -TressCox lawyers.
How does the QTU work for the Queensland Labor party?
1) The Queensland Teachers Union donated $261,840 to the Queensland Council of Unions between September 2012 and January 2015.
This was the most of any of the QCU's donors.
2) Queensland Labor government's July 2015 budget documents reveal that treasurer Curtis Pitt is looking at ways to use the Queensland Teachers' defined benefit fund to buy state-owned energy, port and water businesses.
The Queensland Teachers' defined benefit fund is managed by Queensland Investment Corporation (see below).
$2 billion dollars that the Queensland Labor government should put into the Queensland teachers' defined benefit fund will not be put into the fund.
How does the QTU work for QTU officers?
John Battams (ex-QTU General Secretary) was appointed president of the Queensland Council of Unions (see above).
Then in September 2015 Mr Battams was appointed to the board to the board of the Queensland Investment Corporation.
Fiona McNamara (ex-Brisbane North QTU organiser) has been appointed advisor to the Queensland Premier.
Julianne Gilbert (ex-North Queensland QTU organiser) has become a Member of Parliament.
Sam Pidgeon (QTU vice-president and also a Labor Party member) has been appointed to the board of SEQWater.
How does the QTU work for classroom teachers?
Sam says : As teachers, we know all too well that when we question what we are being asked to do - things that we don't actually think will improve the effectiveness of our teaching - we will often be labelled "troublemakers".
But our learning, our experience and our willingness to engage in professional discussion is what makes us professionals.
We need to talk about this issue.
Is it reasonable, for example, for teachers to be expected to write individual curriculum plans for so many students?
We need to take control of our workload.
We need to ask "Why?" more often.
We need to work smarter, not harder.
Robina Cosser says : The problem is, of course, as Sam correctly points out, that teachers who engage in professional discussion are taking a great risk.
If you try to discuss, for example, the numbers of children missing from their classrooms, roaming about the school, disrupting the other classes, there is a real risk that you will be put on Managing Unsatisfactory Performance because the principal believes that you are having "wrong thoughts".
The problem for classroom teachers is that some principals are poorly trained.
And some principals do not have the intelligence to benefit from training.
The Education Queensland promotion system fails classroom teachers.
It places them at risk of workplace abuse if they try to operate at a professional level..
Some principals have been promoted for reasons unrelated to their ability.
Classroom teachers need to ask their QTU Organiser : "If I try to engage in professional discussion (about the numbers of children missing from the classrooms), will the QTU support me?"
And if they won't, don't.
It won't be safe for classroom teachers to engage in professional discussion in Queensland schools till principals are properly trained and then after having been trained, are properly selected.
A dim, stressed, poorly trained, principal will attack you if you try to engage in professional discussion.
It is much, much easier for a dim principal to MUP-attack a teacher and to drive the teacher into ill-health retirement than to make the effort to deal with a problem at their school or with a suggestion raised by a teacher.
Why it's better to work smarter than work harder, Sam Pidgeon, QTU Vice-President, p.9, Queensland Teachers' Journal, Volume 120 number 3, 24 April 2015
Penny Spalding says : Around 76 per cent of QTU members are women.
Robina Cosser says : Are the views of these women members equitably represented in the QTU?
Ask your QTU Organiser -
Are 76 per cent of the QTU executive women?
Were 76 per cent of the members attending the QTU AGM women?
Are 76 per cent of the members of promotion panels women?
IWD : Make it happen in 2015! Penny Spalding, Assistant Secretary - Women's and Social Welfare Issues, p. 19, QTU Journal, Volume 120 number 3, 24 April 2015
Queensland Premier Campbell Newman says he would like to see a dialogue with teachers across Queensland open up without Queensland Teachers' Union interference.
"It has always been a challenge for us to communicate directly with teachers because sadly, and I do say sincerely sadly, the teachers union are a constant force against change and reform," he said.
"They have been extremely negative."
Andrea Malfliet is the partner of former Burpengary State School deputy principal Gavin Woods.
Andrea Malfliet has cited concerns about the Queensland Teachers' Union not becoming a party at the inquest into Gavin Woods' death.
Ms Malfliet, who also works for Education Queensland, said that, one year on, the circumstances surrounding Gavin's death remained shrouded in secrecy.
Ms Malfliet was looking forward to all the circumstances being put on the table.
A QTU representative was present at the meeting Gavin Woods had with the Department on 7 June 2011, a few days before he (seems to have) suicided.
So the QTU have known since June 2011 what was really going on at Burpengary State School.
Ask your QTU organiser -
If I am bullied at work, will the QTU help me?
Why won't the QTU participate in the inquest into the death of Gavin Woods?
How can the coroner find out the truth about Gavin Woods' suicide if the QTU won't participate in the inquest?
And why are the QTU refusing to make wider submissions to the coroner about workplace, health and safety issues?
Why isn't this a valid use of QTU funding?
Aren't our lives important to the QTU?
Gavin Woods and his partner, Andrea Malfliet, have paid their QTU fees in good faith for years.
The QTU have a responsibility to Gavin Woods, Andrea Malfliet, the other Burpengary teachers and the QTU membership to tell the coroner the truth about what was going on at Burpengary State School.
Former partner of Burpengary State School deputy principal Gavin Woods breaks silence ahead of death probe, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 11 August 2012 : http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/former-partner-of-burpengary-state-school-deputy-principal-gavin-woods-breaks-silence-ahead-of-death-probe/story-e6freoof-1226447863685
In May 2013, Queensland LNP Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie will introduce legislation that will compel the Queensland Teachers' Union, Queensland's 33 other unions and 32 employer associations to adhere to strict new reporting and auditing requirements.
The new legislation was drafted after the Health Services Union scandal involving Federal MP Craig Thomson.
The reporting requirements will be backdated to July 1 2012.
"It is not a union-bashing exercise as it applies to all these organisations," Mr Bleijie said.
"It's about empowering the members of these organisations to have a say in the running of those organisations."
"There will be four registers required to be kept and publicly available online commencing from 1 July 2012 last year, so it is retrospective," Mr Bleijie said of the new reporting requirements.
"We will be seeking in one register the remuneration of the 10 highest paid individuals, officials and employees, updated twice a year," he said.
Another register will include material personal interest declarations of elected officials and their relatives.
"Gifts and benefits given and received by officials and employees of industrial organisations will be required to be on a register," he said.
Mr Bleijie said the organisations will also have to conduct ballots through the Queensland Electoral Commission for political expenditure greater than $10,000 and make that information publicly available.
Unions have already come out strongly against many of the proposed changes.
Robina Cosser says : This is what happens when the QTU put all of their eggs in the Labor basket.
The QTU executive need to be more strategic.
LNP hits unions and employer associations with legislation on reporting and auditing, Sarah Vogler, The Courier-Mail, 27 April 2013 : http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/lnp-hits-unions-and-employer-associations-with-legislation-on-reporting-and-auditing/story-e6freoof-1226630327698
Queensland Education Minister John-Paul Langbroek says he may change workplace agreements to stop principals and teachers using work resources for political campaigns.
Mr Langbroek was concerned because a principal from an unnamed school used a work email account to encourage colleagues to lobby the Premier's office over the Gonski education reforms.
The principal involved is a Queensland Teachers' Union official and was allowed to send the email under the existing workplace agreement.
But Mr Langbroek says principals should not use their position to campaign on political issues.
Robina Cosser says : This is such a risky situation for teachers.
Many Queensland teachers would not want to lobby the Queensland Premier's office.
But would a principal feel angry with a teacher if they did not share his or her political views?
Could a Queensland teacher find themselves on Managing Unsatisfactory Performance because of the principal's mysterious 'concerns about the way that you are thinking'?
Believe me, reader - in Queensland, they could.
Some principals are amazingly good Labor haters.
There is such a conflict of interest when principals become QTU representatives in schools.
UNE research found that 99.6% of Australian teachers have been bullied at work, and that the problem was 'rife' in Queensland.
Who can a Queensland teacher turn to for support if the principal bullies him or her - and the principal is also the QTU organiser?
The whole situation of classroom teachers and principals being in the same union is so problematic for Queensland teachers.
The Minister has written to regional directors, telling them that such campaigning should be done outside of work hours, and that principals should not use their position to influence (or to intimidate) other staff members.
"All of us in a democracy have a right to have our voices heard," Kevin Bates from the Queensland Teachers Union said.
"This is a typical knee-jerk reaction from this Government.
"They want to silence anybody who's willing speak out against them."
Queensland will soon have new laws that will compel the senior officers of the QTU to reveal the full details of their pay and perks.
Robina Cosser says : I will be particularly interested to find out how much money the QTU senior officers earn through 'directorships'.
Because I think the QTU senior officers should direct all of their time to looking after the needs of their QTU members.
Particularly their bullied members.
Queensland Attorney-general Jarrod Bleijie said the new Queensland laws would compel the 10 most senior executives of the QTU, and each of Queensland's 33 registered unions, to publicly disclose their wages, gifts and entertainment spending.
And to publicly disclose how QTU funds are spent in general.
The 'union accountability bill' could be retrospective to take in the last financial year.
An audit office could be established to examine union books.
QTU members could also be given greater powers to decide just how their fees are spent.
Robina Cosser says : What a terrific idea.
QTU members could vote on how much money the QTU donates to the ALP.
Robina Cosser says : I would like to see a section on the annual dues where each QTU member ticks the political party they would like to support with their union fees.
It is not fair to force all QTU members to support the ALP.
What motivation do the LNP have to support Queensland teachers if the QTU is only supporting the ALP?
Mr Bleijie hopes the bill will be approved next month.
Robina Cosser says : This bill will be a big step towards holding unions responsible for their use of our annual fees.
We need to know how our fees are being used.
And why the QTU won't participate in the inquest into the death of Gavin Woods.
Why isn't the Gavin Woods inquest a valid use of QTU finding?
What are the QTU spending our money on?
This is going to be very interesting.
What is more important to the QTU senior officers than participating in the inquest into Gavin Woods' death?
Union heads fight to stop new disclosure law, Sarah Vogler, p. 7, The Courier-Mail, Wednesday 13 March 2013.
Fiona McNamara, who has previously run for the federal seat of Dickson, oversaw Kate Jones's Ashgrove campaign in the lead up to the 2012 state election.
The Brisbane electorate includes the inner-city, New Farm, Hamilton, Eagle Farm, Hendra, Clayfield, Wooloowin, Lutwyche, Stafford, Enoggera, Ashgrove, Paddington and Milton.
Ms McNamara said she would go from door to door to promote Labor's policies.
Speaking at Fiona McNamara's campaign launch at the New Farm Bowls Club, federal Employment and Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten said there was "a mood indeed of some pessimism even within our own ranks about our prospects" at the September 2013 federal election.
Individual unions could also have to publicly account for all spending, with particular emphasis on political party expenditure.
Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie told The Courier-Mail that union members had a right to know how their fees were being spent.
"The Newman Government will be pushing for legislative change at a state level to stamp out corruption and ensure the law provides more safety nets, checks and balances," he said.
Planned Queensland Government legislation could force union bosses to reveal pay, perks and spending, Sarah Vogler and Koren Helbig, The Courier-Mail, 15 October 2012 : http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/planned-queensland-government-legislation-could-force-union-bosses-to-reveal-pay-perks-and-spending/story-e6freoof-1226495747526
Queensland classroom teachers have just one union - the Queensland Teachers' Union.
Some Queensland teachers argue that they really only have half a union because they have to be in the same union with their bosses - school principals, District Office and even Head Office administrative staff!
These Education Queensland 'bosses' also only have half a union in the QTU - but their interests are also protected by their many professional associations.
So when new policies are written, Queensland principals and administrators get lots and lots of 'consultation' through their professional associations.
But the interests of Queensland classroom teachers are only represented by the QTU (who also represent the interests of their bosses - which you may consider to represent a conflict of interest).
Queensland classroom teachers have no other professional association to represent their interests.
And Queensland school principals and administrators haven't even had to fund their professional organisations - the Labor government has been funding their professional associations for them!
The Queensland Association of State School Principals was being given $160,000 (presumably per annum) by the Labor government.
The Queensland Secondary Principal's Associtation was being given $160,000 by the Labor government.
The P10/12 Principals'Association was being given $74,000 by the Labor government.
The Association of Special Education Administrators in Queensland was being given $160,000 by the Labor government.
The Queensland Institute of Senior Education officers was being given $20,000 by the labor Government.
$574,000 in total - all being paid by the Queensland Labor government to the Queensland principals' and administrators' associations!
Ask your QTU organiser -
Wouldn't the school principals and administrators professional associations have a conflict of interest if they were being funded by the Queensland Labor government?
Wouldn't it be difficult for these associations to speak out on professional issues if they were being funded by the Queensland Labor government?
Government claims "savings" - we know they're cuts, Kevin Bates, QTU President, Page 7, Queensland Teachers' Journal Volume 117, Number 7, 5 October 2012.
Three years later there were serious allegations that the entity had been used by Mr Wilson to misappropriate hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The partners of Ms Gillard's law firm, Slater & Gordon, conducted an internal investigation.
Ms Gillard admitted to them that the incorporated association was actually set up as a slush fund to hold monies for the re-election of union officials.
"It's common practice, indeed every union has what it refers to as a re-election fund, slush fund, whatever, into which the leadership team puts money so that they can finance their next election campaign," Ms Gillard said in the interview.
The listed objects of the association, which are set out in the formal rules that were written by Ms Gillard, do not state that the purpose is to fund elections for union officials.
The rules instead emphasise purposes including the promotion of safer workplaces and skills training.
In the formal application for the association, Ms Gillard wrote that it was formed for the purpose of "development of changes to work to achieve safe workplaces".
Ask your QTU organiser -
Do the leaders of the QTU have a slush fund?
Do they use the money in this slush fund to pay for their own re-election campaigns?
Is this why there is so little change in the QTU leadership - because other candidates cannot afford to pay for advertising and mailing costs?
Julia Gillard set up 'work safety' entity that was a slush fund, Hedley Thomas, National Chief Correspondent, The Australia, 23 August 2012 : http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/investigations/julia-gillard-set-up-work-safety-entity-that-was-a-slush-fund/story-fn6tcxar-1226456179736
In 1995, Julia Gillard was a partner with law firm Slater & Gordon
Nick Styant-Browne,a former equity partner of Slater and Gordon, said the conduct of the law firm in waiving its conveyancing fee for the purchase of a Fitzroy house and lending $150,000 to complete the sale was not unusual.
"Like many law firms, Slater & Gordon regularly did discounted or free conveyances for clients who held office in its client corporations or organisations.
Like any labour law firm, the fees for these conveyances for union officials were regularly waived, " he said.
"Slater & Gordon conducted a solicitors' contributory mortgage practice, which made loans secured by first mortgage over properties up to a percentage of a sworn valuation obtained for the specific purpose of the loan. A partner of the firm was designated as the trustee for the mortgage on behalf of the contributors, and signed the mortgage in that capacity. Legal fees or disbursements for the mortgage formed part of the loan, as was the case for the Kerr Street, Fitzroy mortgage. The Kerr Street conveyance and mortgage were both unexceptionable transactions for the firm's conveyancing and mortgage practice.
Ask your QTU organiser -
Nick Styant-Browne used to work with Julia Gillard at Slater and Gordon.
He says that many law firms offer discounted or free conveyances for union officials.
Do QTU officers get discounted or free conveyancing services?
Do they get solicitors' mortgages?
Wouldn't this be a conflict of interest?
Revealed: Julia Gillard lost her job after law firm's secret investigation, Hedley Thomas, National Chief Correspondent, The Australian, 18 August, 2012 : http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/investigations/revealed-julia-gillard-lost-her-job-after-law-firms-secret-investigation/story-fn6tcxar-1226452973559
Bill Ludwig is boss of the National Australian Workers Union.
He is also a director of Racing Queensland Limited.
It is understood Mr Ludwig is eligible for an income of at least $50,000 for his Racing Queensland duties.
Mr Ludwig took defamation action against former Supreme Court judge Bill Carter in relation to Mr Ludwig's duties as an RQL director.
Bill Ludwig personally signed two Australian Workers Union cheques worth almost $45,000 combined for his legal expenses relating to his position as a director of Racing Queensland Limited.
Mr Ludwig said he had done nothing unusual.
He said all union officials lost their private identity when they took on the job of union representation.
"Any attack on them becomes an attack on the union," he said. "That is why their costs are covered."
The AWU did not return The Courier-Mail's calls to answer whether a damages payout from a successful action against Mr Carter would have been given to the union.
No one from the Australian Council of Trade Unions was available for comment on whether unions routinely pay the legal costs of union officials involved in private disputes.
Robina Cosser says : Ask your Queensland Teachers Union organiser -
Is Bill Ludwig right?
Do QTU organisers also have their legal fees paid by the QTU for issues unrelated to their QTU duties?
Do QTU officers also hold directorships of other organisations?
How much do they earn from those directorships?
Do they give that money to the QTU, or do they keep it for themselves?
Should QTU officers take highly-paid directorships in addition to their union responsibilities - or should they put all of their time and energy into working for QTU members?
Union funds paid boss's bills, Michael Madigan, The Courier-Mail, 7 September 2011 http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/union-funds-paid-bosss-bills/story-e6freon6-1226130911928
Judith Sloan has written an interesting article in The Weekend Australian concerning the monopoly that unions have gained over workers' workplace rights.
Her article actually concerns the Health Services Union ( HSU ), but it raises several issues that have long concerned me about the Queensland Teacher's Union ( QTU ).
Judith Sloan writes -
The core issue that arises in relation to the misconduct of HSU officials stems from the monopoly role conferred on registered employee associations (trade unions) by the Fair Work (Registered Organisations) Act 2009.
As students of economics know, monopolies are bad, leading to undesirable patterns of behaviour.
In addition, the HSU saga demonstrates the weakness of the legislation underpinning the registration of organisations.
The HSU represents people ranging from low-paid health services workers, such as cleaners, orderlies and caterers, to higher paid workers, including some health professionals and hospital scientists.
Robina Cosser comments : In the same way, the QTU represents classroom teachers, school principals, District Office staff and even ( I understand ) some senior departmental Directors working in the Mary Street Head office.
These very different groups of workers are jammed together by virtue of the ACTU policy of amalgamation and the desire to create a small number of powerful unions.
The lumping together of disparate types of workers into the HSU has been the source of friction.
Some hospital scientists in Victoria, for instance, have been very vocal about their dissatisfaction with the union and the way it has gone about its duty to represent their best interests as members.
This seems to suggest that Queensland teachers have been lumped together with their bosses by the ACTU, not because this is better for teachers' best interests as members, but because this makes the QTU a bigger and more powerful union. And, presumably, because it makes the QTU senior officers bigger and more powerful in the union movement ( and the Labor party ).
The QTU have ( I understand ) a policy of not supporting a member who is in conflict with another member.
Education Queensland school principals and senior officers all seem to know about this policy.
They seem to know that they can bully a teacher and, when the teacher turns to the union for assistance, the union will do nothing - because it is the union policy not to support members who are in conflict with other members.
This union policy seems to leave Queensland classroom teachers exposed to workplace abuse.
Queensland teachers need a union that will represent their interests.
But federal Labor government legislation seem to trap Queensland teachers in the same union as their abusive bosses.
The federal Labor government must amend the legislation to provide for competitive unions.
This can be done only by removing the "conveniently belong to" rule.
This rule is set out in Section 19(1)(j) of the act, which states that Fair Work Australia must grant an application for registration made by an association if and only if "there is no organisation to which members of the association might belong".
In other words, if there is already a registered trade union covering defined classes of workers, then any other trade unions seeking to cover the same classes of workers will be denied registration.
By any measure, this is a profoundly anti-competitive provision.
If freedom of association is to mean anything, it must mean the right to join or not join a trade union, and to have a choice about which union to join.
The federal Labor government must act to ensure that competition and choice provide the best chance for the interests of members to be effectively and scrupulously represented.
Workers would be better served by removing union's monopoly rights, Judith Sloan, contributing economics editor, Inquirer, P.16, The Weekend Australian, 7 April 2012 : http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/opinion/workers-would-be-better-served-by-removing-unions-monopoly-rights/story-fnciif3z-1226320698095
The Queensland Teachers Union ( QTU ) leadership sat mute throughout the March 2012 Queensland state election, refusing to acknowledge the deficiencies of the Queensland Labour government and the way its inept political leadership was causing stress on teachers.
With the election of a new LNP Government, which a majority of Queensland teachers must inevitably have voted for, the QTU is threatening strike action.
The new Queensland LNP Government has a mandate to implement its changes in education.
The QTU needs to accept the view of the huge majority, not the minority view of some of its members.
Des Deighton, Sippy Downs, Letter to the Editor, Talkingpoint, P. 36, The Courier-Mail, 30 March 2012.