Outrage over pay cut for unvaccinated Aussie teachers: 'Beyond disgraceful'

A decision to dock the pay of Queensland teachers who have refused to get the Covid vaccine has sparked a heated debate.

The state's education department is finalising disciplinary action against some 900 of 54,000 public schoolteachers, aides, administration staff and cleaners who were non-compliant with the state's directive to get vaccinated against the new virus.

Despite a national summit being held earlier this month by the federal government to address the dire problem of teacher shortages, and widespread calls for better pay for teachers, hundreds will now see their pay docked over the rule.

File picture of a teacher in front of a class. Source: Getty (file)
Nearly a thousand teachers will see their pay docked. Source: Getty (file)

"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 Wednesday.

The penalty imposed is specific to individual circumstances, but equates to a cut of of between $25 and $90 a week over 18 weeks, proportionate to normal pay. That means some teachers will lose out on $2,250. Principals stand to loose even more.

"This is not an uncommon penalty to result from a disciplinary process," the statement said.

Teachers dealing with 'consequences of their choice': Minister

Federal Aged Care Minister Anika Wells said vaccine holdouts were dealing with "the consequences of that choice" when asked about the policy on Wednesday.

"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," she told Channel Nine.

"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 Channel Nine.

Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace said disciplinary action was always on the cards for the unvaccinated workers.

Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace has defended the policy. Source: AAP
Queensland Education Minister Grace Grace has defended the policy. Source: AAP

"Other states sacked their teachers, they took that drastic action," she told reporters on Wednesday.

"That was always part of a disciplinary process. We decided not to go with that."

But Australian National University chancellor and former foreign minister Julie Bishop said the disciplinary action was "a very harsh outcome".

"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."

Rule labelled 'beyond disgraceful' on social media

Others on social media were also highly critical of the disciplinary pay cut with some labelling it "disgraceful".

"This is beyond disgraceful," wrote one woman on Facebook. "ALL teachers must stick together and stage a mass walk out."

"Considering the huge lack of teachers at the moment, punishing them for a personal choice seems like a great idea," another sarcastically quipped.

"As a parent I'd support a strike," one person commented.

with AAP

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