Bargaining in NSW Christian schools

The current NSW Christian Schools Teaching Staff Multi – Enterprise Agreement (MEA) expires in December and the Union is bargaining for a new agreement with employers.

For the first time, the Association of Independent Schools (AIS) is representing a small group of schools covered by this MEA. However nearly 50 schools continue to be represented by the Christian Schools Association (CSA).

AIS group

The Christian schools represented by the AIS are the Northern Beaches Christian School, the Pacific Hills/ Pacific Coast/ Valley Hope group of six schools and Nepean Christian School. An MEA for these eight schools was circulated for voting between 20 and 24 November 2017 with the Union recommending a vote in favour of the MEA. The initial pay offer of 1.8% per annum was increased following negotiations with the Union to a 2.3% pay increase from February 2018, and 2.5% from February 2019 and 2.5% from February 2020. Although the Union would have preferred a pay rise of 2.5% in 2018, we note that all existing conditions are maintained. The Union is recommending a ' yes' vote for schools other than Nepean Christian School and Northern Beaches Christian School.

Employers have advised the Union that teachers in Christian schools are taking too much carer’s leave and that their spouses should be taking more caring responsibility.

CSA group: Attack on carer’s Leave

CSA schools are proposing a significant change to personal leave (sick leave and personal/carer’s leave) in the new MEA. The Union has been provided with various drafts of proposed clauses. Although each of these drafts differ and later clauses have been a slight improvement on the first draft provided by employers, it is clear that under the new arrangements schools intend to reduce access to carer’s leave for both existing teachers and new teachers.

Employers have advised the Union that a key consideration is their view that teachers in Christian schools are taking toomuch carer’s leave and that their spouses should be taking more caring responsibility. However employers concede that overall the level of personal leave being taken is not high and that the need for leave is genuine. In response, the Union has stated that we consider the attitude of employers to be totally unreasonable and discriminatory and we have pointed out that the proposed CSA clause provides a level of personal leave below that existing in NSW government, Catholic systemic and independent schools. The Union has advised CSA that we do not accept these changes and will be advising members to vote against the new MEA unless there are significant improvements to personal leave.

The Union has received a pay offer of 2.3% (2.5% top step and promotions allowances) from February 2018, 2.5% in 2019 and 2.5% in 2020.

CSA has advised the Union that a draft MEA reflecting the above will be circulated to teachers in schools for voting around the end of November. Members should discuss these issues with their colleagues, particularly the proposed reduction in carer’s leave and the entrenching of a standard of personal leave below that applying in other NSW schools. In each case the vote on the new MEA will be determined school by school, based on the number of votes cast in support of the MEA and against the MEA at each school and there is no minimum number of votes required in the ballot.

Encourage your colleagues to vote ‘no’.

Carol Matthews
Assistant Secretary