A new pay deal is on the table for Tasmania's public servants, but the long-running dispute may still end up in arbitration as various union heads fail to come to a consensus.
The Australian Education Union has broken ranks with its union peers on the deal, because it says it has no provisions for working conditions for Tasmanian teachers or principals.
It's at odds with other union leaders, who have met the deal with hesitant optimism because it signals a move by the government to not force the matter into arbitration.
AEU Tasmania president Helen Richardson called the new deal, put forward by Premier Will Hodgman during negotiations on Thursday, as a "one-size-fits-all approach" that did not fit for Tasmania's teachers and principals.
The comments by the AEU are disappointing considering all other unions were relatively supportive of the deal and voiced their hesitant acceptance that it was the best place to be in considering the alternative.
Let's consider that.
The alternative if unions can't agree, is that the pay dispute, which has been running for more than 12 months in various forms, is that Tasmania's industrial relations watchdog, the Industrial Commission, will have to arbitrate the negotiations to ensure an outcome is reached.
That process may take months, and the workers, whom the unions say they represent, will go for even longer without certainty for their positions, with no improved working conditions in sight.
Negotiation by its nature has to be give and take, and while the education union, along with the other unions, have a right to protest and negotiate for fairer and better conditions, it shouldn't be at the expense of those they claim to be fighting for.
The 12-month deal might not be perfect, but it does provide a platform from where considered negotiations may take place and it does signal the willingness of the government to enter back into that negotiation.
The education union should consider not throwing out the baby with the bath water.