Be part of something

Members in Newcastle will stop work for a second time on Wednesday, 4 December, following a two hour stop work in November. More than 50 professional officers, education officers and administrative staff working at the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese Catholic Schools Office (CSO) stopped work for two hours on 20 November.

Members in nearby schools are encouraged to support their colleagues by participating in the stop work, which is after school hours.

The dispute relates to the refusal of the employer to guarantee the full three years of CSO members’ enterprise agreement (EA) coverage, following a restructure.

Newcastle IEU Organiser Therese Fitzgibbon said the restructure saw people being moved outside of direct employment in the CSO and put onto individual contracts.

“It’s crucial for our members to maintain EA coverage and we will continue to take industrial action until such time as the employer comes with a reasonable outcome,” Therese said.

“We’re absolutely delighted by the attendance at the stop work meeting. Out of 59 potential members over 50 attended, so it’s a great outcome.

“Members voted to take further protected industrial action. We will be encouraging other members to join them at the end of their school day.”

In 2018 the diocese undertook the restructure known as Many Parts, One Body, One Mission which resulted in a group of members being stripped of their EA coverage.

Show us respect

I think it should be done with a bit of compassion and with some social justice thinking behind it.

Members are of the strong view that the diocese will attempt to deny more members EA coverage and the members will not settle an agreement until they receive a guarantee that this will not occur.

IEU Secretary Mark Northam urged the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese Director of Schools to ensure all members are guaranteed coverage of the EA for the life of the agreement.

“Employers cannot change the rules without going through the proper negotiations,” Northam said. “But it appears that the diocese is determined to strip members of their rights and entitlements”.

Steven Newman, Education Officer and IEU Rep said: “We would like the wording of the coverage clause in our EA to give us assurance that we will always be covered by the EA.

“We’re worried that regardless of any bargaining that we do that, as soon as there’s any change or restructure, we will be stripped of our EA just like our former colleagues.

“We want one body, one mission, one EA.”

Louise Campbell, Aboriginal Education Officer said: “I find it really sad that we’ve gotten to this point in the negotiation.

“I think it should be done with a bit of compassion and with some social justice thinking behind it.

“My EA matters because I find, as an education officer working for the diocese, the enterprise agreement is good for all of us.

“It will not only support some of the ideas we have put forward, but it will also support the schools.

“It will support the students and the teachers, so that our wellbeing is considered and all of those skills and knowledge we bring are top quality.”

Michelle Lancey, Administration Assistant said: “My EA matters because it’s the conditions that you worked for. People worked long and hard for many years to get those conditions, as in leave and pay, and we really have a responsibility to make those conditions continue.”

IEU Organiser Carlo Rendina said the day of stop work action was special because it coincided with the 150 years anniversary of unionism in the Hunter.

“150 years ago today workers in the Hunter Valley collectively decided they were going to take action for an eight hour day.

“The catch cry of ‘eight hours to work, eight hours play, eight hours to sleep, eight bob a day’ was coined 150 years ago.

“So these people are part of a long history, they have every reason to be proud of their union, to be proud of themselves for taking action, and proud to be part of a working collective that strives towards improving the conditions and pay of all works across the country.”