Hundreds of protestors took the streets on Aug. 31 against a decision by the Queensland state government to dock the pay of unvaccinated teachers.
A week earlier, Education Queensland finalised disciplinary action against 900 teachers in the state (out of 54,000 educators) who will see their pay cut by $25 to $90 per week over an 18-week period.
"School staff were given ample opportunity to follow the lawful direction or provide evidence as to why they should be exempt from the direction since the vaccination requirements were announced in November 2021," the Department said in a statement on Aug. 24.
The punishment will be the second pay hit for the 900 educators who were initially stood down without pay for refusing the first COVID-19 jab by Dec. 17, 2021.
Mixed Response to DecisionQueensland's state education minister, Grace Grace, said the penalty was not uncommon and was better than other state governments who had resorted to dismissing teachers.
"That was always part of a disciplinary process. We decided not to go with that," she told reporters.
While federal Labor Aged Care Minister Anika Wells also weighed in on the debate saying unvaccinated teachers were dealing with the "consequences of that choice."
"Everyone has the right to make a choice about whether or not to get vaxxed, but no one has the right to be free from the consequences of that choice, and these have been set out a long time coming, and they've had their pay docked for the six months running up to this," she told Nine's Today program.
"So this isn't a surprise, and something that the Queensland government is going to have to work through with the very small pocket of teachers, given 99 percent are actually vaccinated."
The move was criticised by former Liberal Party Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, who said it was needless given the current teacher shortage in Australia.
"Surely we've moved on from this now," she told Today. "I would like to see the medical advice that would support such a penalty being imposed on people who, after all, have made a choice. It is pretty harsh."
Bishop said it was hard to expect to teachers to continue working when they received lower pay rates.
Taking to the StreetsMembers of alternative education union, the Teachers' Professional Association of Queensland (TPAQ), took part in a protest organised by the People's Revolution—established in 2020 in response to harsh lockdown measures implemented during the pandemic.
Hundreds of marchers proceeded to the rally outside the state's Parliament House.
TPAQ falls under the umbrella Red Union movement formed in response to widespread acceptance of vaccine mandates by Australia's traditional unions.
Red Union has stated it is not affiliated with any political entity (major union groups in Australia are generally linked to the current government, the Australian Labor Party) and has grown to around 17,000 members covering areas such as teaching, nursing, driving, and doctors.
Tracy Tully, secretary of TPAQ, said the move by the Queensland education minister to dock the pay of teachers was "irresponsible."
Red Union's Other BattleMeanwhile, Red Union is also fighting to avoid being de-legitimised under the state government's proposed changes to industrial relations laws.
Grace, also the industrial relations minister, said the state's Industrial Relations Act 2016 was being amended to provide a clear distinction between unions and "other bodies" that seek to represent employers and employees.
Grace also said the new law would provide "protections" against union movements making "false and misleading claims" about being able to represent the interests of workers.
Red Union Managing Director Jack McGuire said the Bill would narrow the requirements around registration and effectively side-line his organisation.
"This is the most anti-worker Bill ever introduced into the Queensland Parliament, and any MP that got elected off the back of workers should be ashamed that a supposed 'Labor' government would even draft this," McGuire told The Epoch Times.