The IEU is in dispute with Reddam House, an elite independent school in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, over the underpayment of wages to its early learning centre teachers and educators.
Members at Reddam ELS, an early learning school set up by Reddam House, contacted the Union in October 2015 concerned about new contracts of employment they had been issued.
These contracts were issued by a new entity previously unknown to the Union, Crawford Education Pty Ltd. Equally concerning was the fact that the contracts stipulated modern award conditions despite the Union having successfully negotiated Teachers and Support and Operational Staff Enterprise Agreements with Reddam House, in line with the Multi-Enterprise Agreements applying to other independent schools in NSW.
The new contracts suggested a teacher engaged at Reddam ELS could be paid $31,527 less and receive less long service leave and parental leave than the same teacher employed in a class across the schoolyard at Reddam House.
Despite Reddam House advising parents on their website that Reddam ELS “prepares children best for a Reddam education”, the school claimed that members at Reddam ELS were not their employees. Rather Crawford Education, a company that according to ASIC records has connections to the Mauritius, employed them. As Crawford Education was a different employer the school argued the employees were not covered by the enterprise agreements the Union had negotiated with Reddam House.
The Union notified a dispute on behalf of members to the Fair Work Commission. Reddam House and Crawford Education then tried to stop the Fair Work Commission taking any action in relation to the dispute, claiming the Union was not legally able to notify a dispute under the disputes procedure in the relevant industrial instrument, that is the modern award (which the employers said applied to the work) or the Reddam House enterprise agreement. The employer also refused to provide any information (such as payroll records) that would clarify who the employer was and which industrial instrument applied.