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Australian Education Union, Victorian Branch

Australian Education Union, Victorian Branch

inside the AEU New

inside the AEU New Educators NETWORK Andrew Cassidy graduate teacher organiser PHOTO: DENIS EVANS What a turnout! June 7 saw many new teachers strike for the first time. ❛THIS is my first stopwork. It’s been amazing. A huge turnout. I didn’t know what to expect but everybody at our school bar three or four teachers are here. I’m not on contract myself but it’s a huge issue for young teachers — to still be on contract after seven years. For some people to be taking long service leave but still be on contract — that’s ridiculous. And the hours we put in — we deserve a good pay increase. If we want the best people in such an important job we need to pay them well and keep them in that job. That’s why I’m marching. ❜ Laura Fitzgerald Caulfield South Primary School DON’T think I have ever had I as much adrenaline running through my system as I did on June 7 at the stopwork rally at Hisense Arena and then outside Parliament House. It was the biggest stopwork meeting in this union’s history. Never before has Hisense Arena been filled to capacity for an event like this. One pleasing aspect was meeting so many graduate teachers taking action for the first time. I spoke to members and it was great to get a genuine sense of why teachers were there — to send a clear message to Ted Baillieu that public education must be valued. For one graduate, the idea of performance pay was “extremely divisive and no good for teaching teams”. For another, two years into teaching, the idea of leaving the public system for a more attractive wage was “very appealing”. Victorian government schools have some fantastic graduate teachers and many of them did their part in sending their message to Ted Baillieu. The other pleasing feature of my day was meeting up with former teaching colleagues. There were five AEU members when I started at my school. Now, thanks to the fantastic work of some excellent AEU representatives, there are 27 members and 22 of them stopped work on June 7. It is important now to keep up-to-date with the latest information about the campaign. Keep an eye on the AEU website — www.aeuvic.asn.au — and read information from the AEU when it comes your way. You can also keep in touch through our Facebook site — www.facebook.com/aeuvic and follow us on twitter at @AEUVictoria. ◆ ❛I’m supporting all my colleagues and supporting the movement. I’ve been teaching for two years. I teach the VCAL program. A lot of the program has been slashed which is unfair for those students. I’ve got a big concern about TAFE programs getting slashed as well because that’s where my students end up.❜ Curtis Parker Braybrook Secondary College ❛ 26 aeu news | june 2012

Budget sacrifices The federal budget has put new limits on salary sacrifice schemes. Geoff Allen Retirement Victoria MANY AEU members salary sacrifice into their superannuation fund and some of you could be affected by a policy announced in last month’s federal budget. The amount of “concessional” contributions (by your employer, through salary sacrifice or personal tax deductible) that can be paid into superannuation in any given year is capped. Exceeding the cap can result in heavy tax penalties, so care is needed. Until now, this cap has been age-related. In 2011–12 it was $50,000 a year if you were aged 50 or over, and only $25,000 for the under-50s. From July, the start of the 2012–13 financial year, the cap will be $25,000 for all contributors, regardless of age or level of superannuation savings. Many contributors will need to reduce their level of salary sacrifice or risk facing the excess contributions tax of 46.5%. To illustrate the potential impact, consider “Annette”, a 55-year-old teacher with a salary of $84,100 a year. Her employer is paying superannuation guarantee contributions of 9% ($7,570) into her fund. Annette salary sacrifices $41,600 a year into the same fund. Her total contributions are $49,170, just below the existing cap. From July 1 she will need to reduce her contributions significantly. Assuming her employer continues to contribute $7,570 a year, Annette’s contributions need to fall to $17,430 ($670 each fortnight) or less. AEU members who belong to the defined benefit schemes run by ESSSuper — the Revised, New and SERB Schemes — face additional complications. Members of these funds must determine the level of their “notional contributions” before working out the appropriate level of salary sacrifice. Some principal class members may no longer be able to salary sacrifice at all, given that their notional contributions are close to the cap. These changes affect your potential savings and could affect your retirement planning strategies. A review may be needed to take into account financial and lifestyle factors and ensure you get maximum savings efficiency. For example, a member retiring in the next 12 months should consider maximising salary sacrifice contributions while still working. Some members pursue “transition to retirement” strategies that incorporate superannuation transition pensions and salary sacrifice to superannuation. These strategies should be revisited and fine-tuned if necessary. Whatever your circumstances, now is the time to review your planning to ensure your objectives can still be achieved. ◆ Dollar Notes is an occasional column featuring updates on financial and superannuation matters for members. Retirement Victoria is the preferred provider of financial planning services for AEU members. Appointments: (03) 9820 8088. Information in this column is general in nature. No person should act on its basis but should seek appropriate professional advice based on their circumstances. Safety MATTERS Janet Marshall OH&S organiser Striking a balance Overwork puts a strain on families and does little to improve productivity. THREE-quarters of education workers work more than 45 hours a week, and the number who feel “rushed and pressed for time” is above the average for Australian workers. These statistics and others were presented to our occupational health and safety conference this month by keynote speaker Natalie Skinner. They form part of the evidence collected by the Centre for Work and Life at UniSA in developing a national index of teachers’ work and wellbeing to inform education policy. Natalie’s research was timely given the teachers’ dispute with the Baillieu Government. Despite numerous findings of the hours we work, the Government wants secondary teachers to work even longer, adding an hour to their teaching time and potentially increasing the number of meetings they must attend. Almost 100 elected health and safety representatives and other educators from all sectors of the AEU attended the conference. Its starting point was the idea that the way we work is at least as important as what we do. Work — as much as we love it — often conflicts with our family and community lives. The consequences of excessive work-life conflict and long work hours for individual health, family strain and dysfunction and organisation productivity are well documented. We need to raise awareness of the right to part-time work and flexible work options and help people to access it. We must also regulate our hours by maintaining good labour and OH&S laws. A highlight of the day was hearing from HSR Bryan Woollard from Galvin Park College, where years of neglect followed by heavy rain rendered buildings unsafe. Many rooms had dodgy electrics and mould infestations were a health hazard. Bryan explained how the OHS Act had enabled him to issue four provisional improvement notices (PINs), resulting in the closure of several buildings. He explained the challenges and successes in that process. The conference was far too short to achieve everything we’d hoped but it did raise lots of issues and questions. OH&S is about procedures and systems but it is equally about communication. Health and safety reps need to meet and talk to learn from each other. The AEU is keen to re-establish regional network meetings to address this need. Another strong message from the conference concerned the importance of health and safety reps accessing relevant five-day training, which they are entitled to receive under the OHS Act. The AEU recommends the Victorian Trades Hall training, which is offered in Melbourne and regionally. It’s designed for education department workplaces but is relevant to other education settings. Bullying in Australian workplaces Employment and Workplace Relations Minister Bill Shorten has asked the House of Representatives’ education and employment committee to investigate and report on bullying in Australian workplaces. The inquiry will examine the nature of workplace bullying and consider proposals to address bullying cultures and prevent their development at work. The AEU will be providing a national response to this inquiry. ◆ inside the AEU www.aeuvic.asn.au 27

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