Rank and file members of the Queensland Teachers’ Union have been engaged in a month-long campaign against an inadequate government pay offer. 

It was always going to be an uphill slog to defeat the deal, especially given the union executive’s backing for the state Labor government’s offer. Yet when the final vote was announced, a full 19 percent of members had voted to reject the offer. Thousands of unionists defied the recommendation from the union executive, something unheard of in the union’s recent memory. 

By comparison, during the last round of bargaining in 2016, the union-endorsed deal passed with 95 percent in favour. Starting from nothing, the grassroots campaign to reject the 2019 offer was organised primarily through Facebook. The campaign has elicited the greatest level of engagement in the bargaining process in the union’s history, with 30,000, or 74 percent of eligible members, casting a vote.

The next step for these teachers, many of whom have been newly energised by the campaign, is to ensure workload is adequately reduced in the coming period. The government’s offer includes a commitment to form a Workload Advisory Council. Workload has been a key issue for union members for the last decade of pay campaigns, so we’ll now be fighting to make sure this new body doesn’t become another useless talk shop.