VGSA 2021: It's about time!

AEU members hare 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.
 
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 need to join 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

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

Download poster

Ban on attendance at one hour of meetings per week

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.

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  Members will be advised if, and when, the ban is withdrawn.

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 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.

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.

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

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.

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.


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.


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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