Mediation is our middle name

The Catholic Commission for Employment Relations (CCER) website states it is committed to creating workplaces of innovation and excellence, imbued with dignity and justice. Not so if they deny us the justice of arbitration.

I’m not going to rant and rave about the lack of justice and total contempt from the CCER for support staff. The proof is in our low pay and lack of access to a fair incremental step structure.

The barriers they put in front of us, when we try to access higher levels, are outrageous. Support staff are never treated fairly by the CCER. For instance, they flatly refuse to allow us parity with teachers with our long service leave. You would think same industry, same conditions! Not so, not in their eyes!

They have total disregard for our access to a fair and equitable arbitration process for both support staff and teaching staff. CCER says the IEU is seeking to modify this clause, so that arbitration will be sought without consent and without first trying to work things out at a local level. Lies! Blatant misleading lies! We have and will always mediate to conciliation, but want the option of arbitration when this falls down.

Why do we need arbitration? It is the quickest, fairest and most cost effective way to resolve conflicts – we need an umpire. Catholic schools and staff pride ourselves on justice and fairness. Mediation is our middle name. We use it every day. It is part of our job is to act fairly and justly for our students, yet we are not afforded the same from the CCER. Why can’t we have an independent umpire? We need access to fair arbitration; not every dispute is or can be settled with mediation. When in dispute we need an independent umpire to make decisions that are binding.

CCER has endeavoured since 2010, to remove our right to arbitration. Since then they have been fairly consistent with their wish to remove it from our enterprise agreement. We can’t let them do this. In 2017 the Fair Work Commission asked for a tightening up of this clause. This is all we are trying to do. We want to make it clear and fair. We need an umpire – we need the right to arbitration.

The employers dangle a measly 2.5% increase in front of us. This should have been in our pay packets from 1 January this year. It’s pathetic. They’re treating us as idiots. They promise it will be in before Christmas if a ‘yes’ vote goes through. This is impossible. It can’t possibly get through the Fair Work Commission by then. Again – lies. Blatant lies! It is not about the money. We want access to arbitration.

Let’s look at other Catholic sectors. Catholic schools in Queensland and Victoria have access, as do nurses in NSW Catholic hospitals and most government sector employees.

I’m pretty sure our counterparts in the state system have it. So, why not us?

Staff are frightened for their future. We will lose good teachers and staff if the protection of a fair umpire is gone. Why would we stay in an industry where there is no guaranteed protection of our rights?

We want access to fair arbitration. If we lose it now, it’s gone forever. This is not just for us, but also for future staff. We have a responsibility to fight this until a fair resolution is gained. The fair resolution is the right to arbitration.

Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much. Make solidarity our middle name.

For a worker to refuse to belong to a union is to not exercise a democratic freedom, it is to accept the benefits that others have worked for, without contributing to the cost. Democracy flourishes only when freedom is fought for.

A big thank you to support staff who saw the need to fight for justice and take part in stop work days and stop work rallies throughout the state. You are the backbone of the Union. I applaud you.

Don’t forget…

Time is marching by to have your Working With Children Check.

This check is a requirement for anyone working in child related industry. Those currently employed in secondary schools need this check done by 2017 and primary schools by 2018. The following YouTube site gives explicit instructions on how to go about getting your Working With Children’s Check.

The following website is for the application and must be done first

Once filled in and submitted, you will be given an application number. When you have this, you need to go to a NSW Motor Registry Office with your application number, proof of identity and $80.

Carolyn Collins
Vice President Support Staff