Queensland Teachers’ Union president Kevin Bates and the Eureka Stockade flag that signifies solidarity with the construction union.
Queensland Teachers’ Union president Kevin Bates and the Eureka Stockade flag that signifies solidarity with the construction union.

Schools to show solidarity with union

QUEENSLAND schools will be splashed with propaganda for the CFMEU in a plan being slammed as an attempt to "indoctrinate children as militant unionists" as they approach voting age.

In a move criticised as politicising schools, Queensland Teachers' Union general secretary Graham Moloney pledged the union would "make sure there are Eureka Stockade flags in every school in Queensland" in solidarity with the militant construction union.

It is understood the propaganda will include stickers with images of the flag.

The move is in retaliation against the federal construction watchdog, the Australian Building Construction Commission, in January banning union logos including the flag from Commonwealth construction sites.

QTU president Kevin Bates defended the move, saying students were exposed to a variety of views and it was "absolutely appropriate" to have those conversations with students, many of whom are approaching voting age.

He said there were no issues with the union associating itself with the CFMEU, which last year faced allegations some members had threatened to rape the children of nonstriking workers.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham slammed the action, saying there was no case for political campaigning in schools.

"I am sure many teachers are embarrassed that their union is more interested in political stunts than children learning to read," he said.

"Students should be learning about things like Pluto and Pythagoras, not how to run picket lines.

"Of course the events surrounding the Eureka Stockade should be taught as one part of our history but in no way should schools be seeking to indoctrinate children as militant unionists."

The union announced the plan at a conference on Friday, where it distributed Eureka Stockade stickers of varying sizes.

Mr Bates said it was only stickers, not flags, and that it would be up to teachers' professional and ethical judgment where they were used around schools.

"If there's any concern from people about a teacher sticking a Eureka flag on the bumper of their car or the front of their diary, that's the wrong end of the stick in terms of the issues out there," he said. "Where teachers choose to put those up is a matter for them to think about and act professionally and ethically and we expect they would do that. I don't believe it's an issue contrary to our responsibility as educators to make sure young people are exposed to broad range of ideas.''

State Education Minister Grace Grace said the union had assured her there was no intention to fly the flag at schools. "These stickers depicting the Eureka flag are for the personal use of delegates and members, for their cars or personal items," she said.