Dispute filed over Brisbane Catholic Education move to reopen majority of schools

1 March, 2022

Our union filed an urgent dispute late last night with the industrial umpire – the Fair Work Commission (FWC) – over Brisbane Catholic Education’s decision to reopen the majority of schools today Tuesday, 1 March 2022.

IEU Chapters should meet urgently today to consider these developments (details below).

BCE’s decision comes despite the Queensland Government’s decision to keep all Brisbane state schools closed over ongoing safety concerns related to the flood emergency.

State schools in a number of other South East Queensland regions also remain closed.

The government’s decision to close these schools was based on risk assessments of the schools concerned and to prevent community members from travelling on roads – many of which remain impacted by localised flooding and damage.

BCE did not consult with our union over the decision to reopen schools on 1 March.

Failure to consult with employees and their union would appear to be a contravention of workplace health and safety legislation.

We have also received reports that BCE is requiring staff to access leave in order to prevent themselves from being placed in unsafe situations.

Staff and student safety should be at the forefront of decision-making as the impacts of the flooding emergency continue.


Chapters should meet urgently today

IEU Chapters should meet urgently today (by appropriate means – e.g. video conference) to consider these critical safety and consultation issues.

Chapters should consider the below Chapter Resolution calling on BCE to keep schools closed while individual risk assessments can be undertaken in schools in consultation with workplace health and safety representations at the site level and our union at a peak level.

Chapter Resolutions should be returned as soon as possible to our union.

Click here to lodge your Chapter Resolution online (this should be completed by IEU Chapter Representatives).

Chapter Resolution:
The Chapter at __________ calls on Brisbane Catholic Education to delay the reopening of schools impacted by the South East Queensland flood emergency, in line with the government directives in place in state schools.

Individual risk assessments should be undertaken in schools in consultation with workplace health and safety representatives at the site level and our union at a peak level.


What does this mean for members in BCE schools?

As we wrote in yesterday’s Member Advisory, no employee can be directed to attend work if their safety is at risk; this includes any employer requirement for an employee to travel to work in unsafe or risky conditions.

Many employees will simply be unable to undertake duties this week due to property damage, caring responsibilities or power outages.

With this FWC dispute yet to be resolved, no member should travel to their workplace if it is dangerous to do so or if they have suffered flood damage.

Members who can safely attend work and have been advised that their school is open should attend their workplace while the FWC dispute resolution processes are underway.

Now is the time for employers to do the right thing and show compassion and support for staff – we call on BCE to urgently issue advice to staff in such terms.

While members will understandably be frustrated by the late notice and confusion around the reopening of schools, we are now subject to the processes of the FWC in this dispute.

Our union is continuing to pursue this matter urgently. In the meantime, please read our latest Member Advisory or contact our union for further support.

We will continue to update members as soon as advice comes to hand.

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