IGGS & IJGS make history in first school strike

4 June, 2024

Teachers and school support staff at Ipswich Girls’ Grammar School (IGGS) and Ipswich Junior Grammar School (IJGS) took the first strike action in the school’s history on Tuesday, 4 June 202 as they continued their campaign for better working conditions.  

IEU members at IGGS and IJGS stopped work for three hours from 11:55am until 2:55pm. 

Members are seeking action from their employer on three key issues – a Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) payment, a new automatic step for experienced teachers and flexible access to leave.  

IEU-QNT Assistant Secretary Rebecca Sisson said taking any form of protected industrial action, especially strike action, was always a last resort for IEU members, but the employer has left them no other choice. 

“IEU-QNT members aren’t just taking this action because they deserve better working conditions, they are fighting for the future of the IGGS and IJGS school community,” she said. 

“The employer proposal puts at risk attracting and retaining high-quality teachers for IGGS and IJGS students, now and into the future,” Ms Sisson said. 

United in call for respect 

Ms Sisson said it was great to see members take this stand for the respect they deserve as education professionals.  

Our members have made history – never at Ipswich Girls Grammar or Ipswich Junior Grammar have union members stopped work in its 132-year life,” Rebecca said. 

“Workers have shown extraordinary courage against an employer who refuses to listen,” she said. 

Ms Sisson said member representatives have attempted to negotiate with the employer since August for a fair collective agreement.

“Members’ legitimate concerns remain unaddressed by the employer,” she said.   

Employer position unacceptable  

Ms Sisson said the employer’s ongoing unsatisfactory position — restated at a negotiation meeting on Monday, 3 June —  was unacceptable.  

“Today’s strike action shows IEU members refuse to accept substandard conditions that would diminish the quality of education for their students and undermine our profession. 

“If staff at Ipswich Girls Grammar and Ipswich Junior Grammar accept substandard conditions — conditions that would see them fall behind their State, Catholic and independent colleagues in the Ipswich area — the ability to attract and retain high-quality teachers and other educational professionals will be eroded,” Ms Sisson said. 

“The quality of education that students receive will suffer,” she said. 

Ms Sisson said the week prior, many IGGS and IJGS members took low level actions including taking an uninterrupted lunch break and had their wages docked as a result.  

“The reaction of the employer was disproportionate and unnecessary,” she said. 

“In spite of this, IEU members have refused to be intimidated, showing resilience in the face of adversity.  

“Despite the employer’s action, members have taken the next step. 

“In taking strike action, IEU members at IGGS and IJGS send a message loud and clear to their employer: we demand respect, fair treatment, and quality education for our students,” she said. 

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