PRINCIPAL CONTRACT CONUNDRUMS

Following a review in 2018 of the Northern Territory’s rather parlous financial situation, there were a number of recommendations made on the issue of restoring some financial stability.

One of the suggestions was that the Executive Contracts of 620 Executive Offices employed by the Northern Territory Government should be modified so that salary increments of 2.5% per annum were not applied for the next three years (2019 to 2021).

The Chief Minister’s Department and Michael Gunner personally “required“ that executive contract holders sign a waiver endorsing their willingness to forego these increments for the period suggested. In doing this it was inferred that these people were not necessarily “frontline“ workers.

The Northern Territory Principals Association Contract Principals quite legitimately objected, on the grounds principals are indeed frontline workers and that’s what their positions are all about.

Chief Minister Gunner is adamant that those principals who do not sign (the majority) will have further contracts adjusted to reflect the fact that they did not sign up for the increment freeze. Any contracts negotiated will be at the 2019 salary level.

I personally congratulate Principals and our Association for taking the stand maintained. It’s true to say that they have been well and truly supported by the Australian Education Union (NT) Branch and the Council of Government Schools Organisation.

Part of this has been my appreciation of and admiration for the Association being quite public about the issue.

It will be interesting to see where this happens to finish for at the moment there is no conclusion to the issue. In making these bold “requirements” without negotiation I believe the present government is presuming that it will be re-elected for a further four year term in 2020. Recent polls suggest that there is no guarantee this will be the case.

If an alternative government is elected in just under 12 months time, I wonder whether or not the increments that have been frozen for people who signed the waiver will be reinstated. Further, will those who haven’t signed the waiver have future contracts penalised under a different government regime.

There is a lot of water to go under the bridge on this issue in the months ahead.

In writing this blog I declare my life membership of the Northern Territory Principals Association.

Henry Gray

September 8 2019

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