Students outside the Mudjimba Community Kindy, which is part of C&K
Students outside the Mudjimba Community Kindy, which is part of C&K Contributed

Coast kindergarten teachers postpone strike

UPDATE: The planned industrial action by kindergarten teachers has been postponed due to last minute negotiations.

The Independent Education Union has advised  outside C&K headquarters in Brisbane planned for November 17 from 7.30am won't be going ahead.

"C&K agreed to meet with IEUA-QNT employee representatives ahead of the scheduled negotiation meeting (Thursday, 1 December 2016) in an attempt to resolve employees' concerns," a union spokeswoman said.

"That meeting will take place on the morning of Wednesday, 23 November 2016 and an update will be provided following that meeting."

EARLIER: Kindergarten teachers will begin industrial action demanding six figure salaries for experienced staff.

The kindergarten teachers, assistants and community members will rally outside the Brisbane head office of Queensland's largest early childhood education provider, Creche & Kindergarten Association (C&K) tomorrow.

C&K has 13 kindergartens on the Sunshine Coast.

The action is being organised by the same union, the Independent Education Union of Australia (IEUA) which managed a win for six figure incomes for experienced Catholic teachers in July.

But this was after a hard-fought campaign involving strike action which required schools to request parents keep their children at home.

Queensland and Northern Territory Branch Secretary Terry Burke said kindergarten teachers had historically been paid the same as teachers in the public and Catholic sector.

However, attempts to arrange similar agreements have stalled with C&K.

Mr Burke said cuts to employee working conditions had been proposed by C&K as negotiations continued for a new agreement covering staff in its 139 branch centres across Queensland.

"At the last negotiation meeting, C&K made it clear that teachers and assistants in branch centres, the majority of who are women, would only receive contemporary wages if they agree to give up significant existing working conditions related to superannuation, redundancy and vacation time," Mr Burke said.

C&K CEO Michael Tizard argued however the organisation had been bargaining "in good faith" to finalise the new enterprise agreement.

"We are disappointed with the union campaign to discredit these good faith negotiations," Mr Tizard said.

"We pay our employees above the award wages and we place high value on the work they do.

"We hope the union will agree to return to the negotiating table as soon as possible so that we can reach an agreement for our employees."

Mr Burke said C&K claimed the cuts were necessary on "financial grounds".

However he said this wasn't fair as the "not-for-profit organisation made more than a $1.9 million profit in the 2015 calendar year and received millions of dollars from the sale of its Ithaca campus - effectively given to them for free by the state government".

"C&K wants to cry poor as an excuse to cut conditions and place its workers at financial disadvantage," Mr Burke said

"C&K's plan to cut superannuation entitlements for its branch centre staff is particularly insidious."

Mr Burke said C&K employees "should not be held to ransom over wages".

"It's an absolute outrage that C&K will only pay the going rate if employees are willing to accept cuts which put their financial future at risk.

"C&K receives very significant funding from the state government, so there should be no argument as why they aren't paying the same rates."

Mr Burke said no strikes or work stoppages were planned at this stage and it was hoped this kind of industrial action would be avoided.

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