VGSA 2021: It's about time!

AEU members are taking protected industrial action!
 

AEU Victoria members have been heard loud and clear – you want excessive workloads addressed and salaries that reflect the value of your work.

As part of our ongoing VGSA campaign, we have released a television ad to build pressure on the state government to deal with the excessive and unsustainable workloads that school staff endure, and to deliver decent salaries by investing in teachers, principals, and education support staff.
 
As you are aware, the ballot for protected industrial action has been overwhelmingly endorsed, with 97% of those who participated voting ‘YES’ to taking action.
 
This puts added pressure on the Andrews government to properly address the key issues of salaries and excessive workloads – something they have failed to do after more than seven months of negotiations.
 
Now all schools members across Victoria are joining together to put further pressure on Premier Daniel Andrews and Education Minister James Merlino to achieve a new Victorian Schools Agreement (VGSA).


Learn about the VGSA in AEU News

Catch up on our articles about the negotiations process, and our approach to the big issues such as excessive workload. You can also read about how we're supporting CRTs, principal class members, ES staff and women members.

( Some of these articles are member-only, so log in with your AEU credentials to read.)

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Implementing bans in Schools – Advice for AEU members including FAQs 

Updated 5 November 2021

We have created a noticeboard poster with space for reps to list the current work bans for your sub-branch.

Download poster

Click below to jump to a section:

Ban on ALP state government MPs visiting schools, including stopwork action to coincide with any such visit

Ban on work associated with the NAPLAN Online School Readiness Testing

Ban on Education Support Staff performing work during unpaid lunch breaks

Ban on attendance at one hour of meetings per week

Ban on responding to DET emails

Ban on the implementation of the Framework for Improving Student Outcomes (FISO) 2.0

General questions about bans and limitations
 

Ban on ALP state government MPs visiting schools, including stopwork action to coincide with any such visit

This action will apply from 8.00am on Tuesday 9 November 2021.  This ban will be in place for the duration of the dispute with the government. 

AEU members will take stopwork action at a school which is visited by an Australian Labor Party (ALP) Member of the Parliament of Victoria. The stoppage will coincide with the visit by the Member of Parliament and will extend for the duration of the visit or for one hour, whichever is the longer.

This ban applies to AEU executive class, principal class, teacher class, paraprofessional class, and education support class members.

The purpose of this action is to deny state government MPs the promotional opportunities gained by attending schools and to highlight that the Andrews government are yet to properly address our key workload and salary claims.  

Q. How long should we stop work for if a state ALP Member of Parliament visits our school? 
A. AEU members should stop work for an hour, or for the duration of the visit, whichever is longer. 

Q. What action should we take during a stopwork?
A. All members participating in the stopwork are encouraged to wear red and protest at the front of the school. 

Q. Who is the action aimed at? Does it include non-ALP Members of the Victorian Parliament?
A.  This action is aimed at any current elected ALP member of the Upper or Lower Houses of the Victorian Parliament. It does not include non-ALP Members of the Victorian Parliament, or vice-regal personages such as the Victorian Governor. 

Q. Does the action apply to ALP Members of the Federal Parliament? 
A. No

Q. What do we do when a visit by an ALP Member of Parliament is planned? 
A. AEU sub-branch representatives should contact their AEU organiser immediately. AEU members are to stop work at the start of the visit and remain on stoppage until the visit concludes. If the visit takes less than an hour you are to remain on stopwork for one hour. This is the shortest stoppage authorised by members in the industrial action ballot. Sub-branches should also arrange protest action during the stopwork. 

Q. When I stop work, who will supervise students for whom I am usually responsible? 
A. The AEU has given the required notice to the DET on your behalf for this industrial action.  As part of the Fair Work Commission order to permit protected industrial action the AEU agreed to a longer than normal notice period in order to allow the Department to safeguard the welfare of students. The Department will know much more about the movements of politicians than you do, and it is up to them to put arrangements in place to look after students. You are protected from any legal action under the laws of Victoria and the Commonwealth so long as you refrain from criminal behaviour and/or libel. 

Q. What about schools with multiple sites where the visit is to one site? 
A. All sub-branch members will stopwork and take part in the protest action. 

Q. Are sub-branches required to notify the principal of impending stopwork action? 
A. There is no legal requirement for an individual AEU member to give notice of industrial action including stopwork action. The AEU has given the DET Secretary the required five clear working days’ notice of the commencement of the ban. 

As a matter of courtesy to parents, so that alternative supervision arrangements can be made, where sub-branch members stop work for one hour or the duration of a State ALP politician’s visit, whichever is the longer, the AEU sub-branch representative will inform the principal by the lunch time of the day before the visit of the names of those members stopping work. 
Where sub-branch members are not notified by the employer in advance of a State ALP politician’s visit to a school and members become aware that a State ALP politician is on the premises, they may stop work immediately, and contact the AEU for further advice.

Q. Can my pay be docked for taking this action? 
A. Yes. It is the employer (i.e. the DET Secretary), not a principal, who will dock members’ pay if they engage in stopwork action.  The amount of pay to be docked will be at least one hour, as this is the shortest period of stopwork action approved by members in the protected action ballot, or the duration of the MP visit, whichever is longer.

Q. Will stopping work during an MP visit affect my annual review/salary increment date?
A. No. The annual review takes effect on May 1 for each employee. You would have to be on strike for a total of more than six months in a year to affect any increment for which you may be eligible.

Q. Will stopping work during an MP visit reduce my long service leave (LSL) entitlement?
A. When members take stopwork action, that period does not count towards the accrual of leave.  Stopwork action, however, does not break continuity of service for the purposes of leave entitlements.

Q. I’m an ES, will stopping work during an MP visit affect my annual or additional leave?
A. When members take stopwork action, that period does not count towards the accrual of leave.  Stopwork action, however, does not break continuity of service for the purposes of leave entitlements.

Ban on work associated with the NAPLAN Online School Readiness Testing

This ban will commence at 8.00am on Tuesday 9 November 2021.

This a ban on the performance of all work arising from the NAPLAN Online School Readiness Testing as part of the NAPLAN Online transition program. 

This ban applies to AEU executive class, principal class, teacher class, paraprofessional class, and education support class members.

Members will not undertake any work that is required to carry out the NAPLAN Online School Readiness Testing. 

The purpose of this ban is to: 

  • disrupt normal Departmental operations
  • highlight wide-spread member concerns about the impact and workload of NAPLAN testing
  • ensure students continue to receive a structured learning program determined by their teachers rather than complete a trial test that is not connected to their learning
  • highlight the impact on member work when implementing DET requirements which do not take into account the excessive workload often associated with such requirements.


Q. What is the NAPLAN Online School Readiness Testing?
A. Schools that are yet to transfer from delivering NAPLAN as a paper-based test to an online test are required to undertake ‘school readiness testing’ as part of the NAPLAN Online transition program. This year approximately 60% of schools are required to participate in school readiness testing. More information about the school readiness testing can be found here. 

Q. My school is participating in the NAPLAN Online School Readiness Testing, what type of duties are covered by the ban?
A. The ban is on work involving all elements of the school readiness testing process including, but not limited to, accessing the Online National Assessment platform, conducting the test, training, and uploading cohort data. 

Q. My school is not participating in the School Readiness Testing.  Can my pay be docked?
A. No. If your school is not participating in school readiness testing then there is nothing to ban.

Q. Am I required to inform anyone if I implement the ban? 
A. No. The AEU has given the DET Secretary the required five clear working days’ notice of the commencement of the ban.

Q. Can my pay be docked for taking action? 
A. Yes. It is the employer (i.e. the DET Secretary), not a principal, who will decide whether to seek to deduct pay for partial work bans.  Individual schools and principals cannot decide for themselves to deduct members pay for participating in the ban.  The employer must give you written notice that part of your pay will be docked if you apply a work ban (calculated by assessing how much of your day you spend on the banned task, as a proportion of your full daily hours). That fraction must be proportionate to the fraction of your workload which the banned duty comprises (i.e. the amount of time you would usually spend on the duty divided by the number of hours you work in that day).

During the 2012 VGSA campaign against the then-Liberal state government, when union members last put bans in place, the Department did not dock members’ pay for implementing the bans.  

Ban on Education Support Staff performing work during unpaid lunch breaks

This ban will commence at 8.00am on Tuesday 9 November 2021.

This is a ban by members who are employed as Education Support employees on the performance of all work during those members’ unpaid lunch breaks provided for by Victorian Government Schools Agreement 2017 clauses 24(6) and 24(5)(b)(ii).

This ban applies to education support class members.

ES members will not undertake any duties during the period of their unpaid break.

The purpose of this ban is to highlight that many ES are expected to undertake duties during this period when they are not paid.  

Q. How can teacher and principal class members support ES members to implement the ban?
A. Sub-branches should meet to discuss the ways in which ES members can be supported in implementing the ban, which are specific and relevant to the arrangements at their school.

Q. Can my pay be docked for taking action? 
A. No.  An ES member cannot have their pay docked for not performing duties during times when they are not paid. 

Ban on attendance at one hour of meetings per week

The ban will commence at 8.00am on Monday 18 October 2021. Members will be advised if, and when, the ban is withdrawn.

This is a ban on attendance at one (1) hour of meetings per week that may be required under clause 24(3)(b) or have been agreed under clause 24(5)(b) of the Victorian Government Schools Agreement 2017. 

This ban applies to AEU executive class, principal class, teacher class, paraprofessional class, and education support class members.

The purpose of this ban is to highlight the significant number of meetings that members are required to attend and the required work arising which often contributes to the excessive workload experienced by school employees.

Sub-branches are to meet to determine which meeting(s) will be banned at the school and to advise the principal of your school accordingly.

Q. How do we decide which hour of meetings to ban?
A. The sub-branch should meet and decide on a specific meeting to ban, for example, staff meetings, PLTs, PLCs, COPs, subject area or faculty meetings. Alternatively, if your school has rotating meetings, the sub-branch could decide on a particular meeting night.  If your school does not have a meeting which requires attendance for one hour the members at the school should identify multiple meetings to ban that in total add up to one hour. 
Individual members should only implement the ban on the meeting(s) determined by the sub-branch.

Q. My school has different meetings scheduled during the ban.  Does it have to be the same meeting each week?
A. No, sub-branches should decide which hour of scheduled meeting(s) to ban each week.

Q. Should the principal be notified which meeting(s) will be affected by the ban?
A. Sub-branches should advise the principal of which meeting(s) will be affected; however, individual members are not required to advise the principal if they are participating in the ban.

Q. Do I provide notice to the principal that I am taking part in this ban?  
A. There is no legal requirement for an individual AEU member to give notice of industrial action including bans. The AEU has given the DET Secretary the required five clear working days’ notice of the commencement of the ban. 

Q. When does the hour begin? 
A. The hour begins when the scheduled meeting would have begun at your school, adjacent to the school day.

Q. What if we have a meeting-free week?
A. If there is a meeting-free week, you are not banning anything, and would carry out your duties as normal.

Q. Am I required to stay at school (or on duty if working remotely) if a meeting is banned?
A. Yes, you are still on duty and would perform your ‘other duties’ as described in the Victorian Government Schools Agreement 2017.

Q. Can my pay be docked for taking action? 
A. Yes. It is the employer (i.e. the DET Secretary), not a principal, who will decide whether to seek to deduct pay for partial work bans.  Individual schools and principals cannot decide for themselves to deduct members' pay for participating in the ban.  The employer must give you written notice that part of your pay will be docked if you apply a work ban (calculated by assessing how much of your day you spend on the banned task, as a proportion of your full daily hours). That fraction must be proportionate to the fraction of your workload which the banned duty comprises (i.e. the amount of time you would usually spend on the duty divided by the number of hours you work in that day).

During the 2012 VGSA campaign against the then-Liberal state government, when union members last banned one hour of meetings, the Department did not dock members' pay for implementing the ban.  

Q. If my principal decides to cancel a meeting can my pay still be docked?
A. No, you cannot be docked pay for work you are not required to undertake.

Ban on responding to DET emails

This ban will commence at 8.00am on Monday 18 October 2021 and will be in place for the duration of the dispute with the government.

This is a ban on responding to emails sent by the Department of Education and Training. 

This ban applies to AEU executive class, principal class, teacher class, paraprofessional class, and education support class members.

Members will not reply to any email from the Department, including regional offices of the Department, that request action or information. 

The purpose of this ban is to disrupt normal Departmental operations and to highlight the excessive workload often associated with Departmental requests for action or information.

Q. Are there any instances when I should respond to DET? 
A.  Yes, DET emails relating to: 

  •  the health and safety of members of the school community, including in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic, or
  • the pay, entitlements, leave, and welfare of individual staff members, or
  • the welfare of individual students, or
  • the assessment processes for students enrolled in VCE Units 3 and 4 or final year VCAL or IB

should be responded to. They are not included in the ban.

Q. Should I set up an automatic response rule blocking DET email? 
A. Because the implementation of this ban is subject to the exemptions outlined above, the AEU advises members not to set up an automatic email response rule blocking DET email. If in any doubt about the status of any email received by the Department, you should contact the AEU for advice before you respond or ignore it in line with the bans. 

Q. Am I required to inform anyone if I implement the ban? 
A. No. The AEU has given the DET Secretary the required five clear working days’ notice of the commencement of the ban.

Q. Can my pay be docked for taking action? 
A. Yes. It is the employer (i.e. the DET Secretary), not a principal, who will decide whether to seek to deduct pay for partial work bans.  Individual schools and principals cannot decide for themselves to deduct members' pay for participating in the ban.  The employer must give you written notice that part of your pay will be docked if you apply a work ban (calculated by assessing how much of your day you spend on the banned task, as a proportion of your full daily hours). That fraction must be proportionate to the fraction of your workload which the banned duty comprises (i.e. the amount of time you would usually spend on the duty divided by the number of hours you work in that day).

During the 2012 VGSA campaign against the then-Liberal state government, when union members last banned responding to DET emails, the Department did not dock members' pay for implementing the ban.  

Ban on the implementation of the Framework for Improving Student Outcomes (FISO) 2.0

The ban will commence at 8.00am on Monday 18 October 2021 and will be in place for the duration of the dispute with the government.

This a ban on the implementation of the Framework for Improving Student Outcomes 2.0.  

This ban applies to AEU executive class, principal class, teacher class, paraprofessional class, and education support class members.

Members will not engage in any actions or activities to implement the revised FISO 2.0.  

The purpose of this ban is to disrupt normal Departmental operations and to highlight the excessive workload often associated with Departmental accountability requirements, and the unsatisfactory consultation with the profession about the new model, particularly in relation to workload impact.


Q. What is FISO 2.0?
A. DET is preparing to update the Framework for Improving Students Outcomes (FISO).  The current framework is used by schools to establish school priorities in relation to a school’s strategic plan and annual implementation plan.  The updated framework (FISO 2.0) is to be released by DET in Term 4.

Q. Our school is currently involved in the school review process.  How do we implement the ban?
A. Schools in this situation should continue to use the current Framework for Improving Student Outcomes.  

Q. Can my pay be docked for taking action? 
A. Yes. It is the employer (i.e. the DET Secretary), not a principal, who will decide whether to seek to deduct pay for partial work bans.  Individual schools and principals cannot decide for themselves to deduct members' pay for participating in the ban.  The employer must give you written notice that part of your pay will be docked if you apply a work ban (calculated by assessing how much of your day you spend on the banned task, as a proportion of your full daily hours). That fraction must be proportionate to the fraction of your workload which the banned duty comprises (i.e. the amount of time you would usually spend on the duty divided by the number of hours you work in that day).
 
Q. My school is not currently implementing the Framework for Improving Student Outcomes 2.0.  Can my pay be docked?
A. No, you cannot lose pay for work you are not required to undertake.

Q. Our school is currently developing the Annual Implementation Plan for 2022.  How do we implement the ban?
A. Schools should continue to use the current Framework for Improving Student Outcomes.  

Q. Where can I find a copy of the original FISO, given the DET website has been updated with the FISO 2.0 document?
A. Members can dowload the original FISO on the AEU website here. [.docx]


General questions about bans and limitations

Q. What is the financial impact on a member who imposes a ban or limitation on the work performed?
A. The employer is not obliged to deduct pay from members engaged in a ban or a limitation.
However, if you engage in a work ban or limitation, the employer may give you a notice stating that because of the ban your pay will be reduced by a fraction specified in the notice. 
That fraction must be proportionate to the fraction of your workload which the banned duty comprises (i.e. the amount of time you would usually spend on the duty divided by the number of hours you work in that day).

During the 2012 VGSA campaign against the then-Liberal state government, when union members last implemented a range of bans, the Department did not dock members' pay for implementing the bans.   

Q. Can we make up our own bans?
A. No. The only industrial action which is protected is that action which has been:

  • approved in a protected action ballot initiated by the AEU
  • notified by the AEU to the Department of Education and Training in accordance with orders issued by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) and the Fair Work Act.

Local development of industrial action is not protected and would be a threat to the integrity of the campaign. It could also give the government an opportunity to take us to the FWC and challenge our right to take protected action.

Q. Can I have my employment terminated, be sued, or have disciplinary action taken against me if I participate in the bans?
A. No, the bans are protected industrial action for employees that are members of the AEU. If you are not a member of the AEU, you must join the AEU and then can participate in the bans. Non-AEU members are not permitted to take action.  The Fair Work Act prohibits a person from taking adverse action against an employee because the employee takes part in protected industrial action. The main importance of industrial action being protected is that it gives immunity from civil liability under State and Federal law.


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