No settlement in Catholic systemic schools negotiations

The Union has not been able to reach agreement with the Catholic Commission of Employment Relations (CCER) concerning the new enterprise agreement to apply to NSW and ACT Catholic systemic schools.

Although there has been progress in the negotiations, as at the time of writing there are still major outstanding issues.

Outstanding issues

The key outstanding issue is the Union’s desire to protect the long-standing right of the Union and our members to refer disputes to the Fair Work Commission (FWC) for conciliation and, if required, arbitration (see page 1). This is particularly important as a way of enforcing work practice agreements that contain conditions of employment such as release from face to face teaching, class size limits, limits on meetings etc.

We are also seeking to protect members’ right to inspect files where there have been reportable conduct allegations.

Teacher working conditions

The Union has been meeting with dioceses separately to ensure teacher working conditions are adequately protected. Negotiations have been about:

RFF in primary schools

smaller class sizes and improved support for large classes in primary schools

limits on meeting times in primary and secondary schools

improved protection for members by policies on emails and data collection

reduced size of practical classes in secondary schools

explicit support for teachers seeking Proficient status, and

teacher performance and development, and

guaranteed release for classroom observations.

In some dioceses we now have agreement or are close to agreement about regulation of these conditions; in other dioceses we are not close to agreement.

Agreed issues

The issues that are agreed are as follows:

pay increases,

improved recognition of service for teachers

CCER has agreed in principle to match the improvements in the calculation of service agreed in NSW government schools. These include provisions for recognition of overseas and interstate service and improved recognition of child rearing. This will be a significant benefit for teachers new to the Catholic system with substantial experience elsewhere. However the Union has not yet received a revised draft of the proposed enterprise agreement incorporating all the agreed matters.

pre 2014 teachers

CCER has agreed in principle to fix the anomaly for teachers who started with a Catholic system just before the new standards pay scale commenced in 2014. In some cases, these pre 2014 teachers may be overtaken by teachers who have less teaching service who commenced in 2014 and are therefore progressing more quickly on the new standards pay scale. CCER has indicated they would be prepared in principle to grant an extra increment to the pre 2014 teachers so they are not overtaken.

Support staff

CCER has not agreed to improve long service leave for support staff. They have offered an improvement to the current job security provisions for employees on recurring fixed term contracts.

Next steps

We advised CCER and all dioceses that we wished to resolve the outstanding issues by the beginning of Term 3. As this has not occurred, we will commence the steps to take protected action in support of our claims. We will inform members in NSW and ACT schools of this development early in Term 3.

Carol Matthews
Assistant Secretary