Member engagement achieves new EA for CatholicCare Wollongong

CatholicCare Wollongong has a new Enterprise Agreement (EA) providing pay rises and other benefits for counsellors who work in Wollongong Diocese schools, following three years of union-led negotiations.

The IEU covers a range of diverse sectors in non-government education and engages with members in these workplaces to protect and enhance their remuneration and conditions.

After a strong ‘yes’ vote, the EA is now with the Fair Work Commission for review and approval. In a year in which the NSW south coast has experienced bushfires and COVID, the valuable work of CatholicCare counsellors has come to the fore.

This is part of an overall EA for CatholicCare Wollongong employees and replaces the 2013 EA.

“Although our negotiations stretched for three years and took much time and energy, they were ably supported by the IEU, and we were delighted, in this current climate, to eventually negotiate a 2.5% pay increase for the next three years plus back pay for the last two years,” an IEU Rep for CatholicCare counsellors Sue Livingstone said.

“Achieving a variety of other workplace improvements was also rewarding. Of course, as always, there are still other things to achieve – hopefully next time around.’’

Enterprise bargaining in such sectors can be especially challenging and member knowledge and experience are particularly valuable in securing EAs which meet their needs.

''Member engagement and a strong collective spirit has delivered an EA to protect and advance their rights at work''

Sincere appreciation is expressed to IEU CatholicCare members for their engagement with the EA negotiations and to the IEU bargaining reps Sue Livingstone, Gloria Melham and Rita Maher for their active participation in the bargaining process.

Given the current downwards pressure on pay increases by the NSW Government and the unwillingness of the AIS to bargain centrally with the IEU for pay rises for 2021, the clarity and certainty of a three-year EA with secured pay rises is welcome.

The new CatholicCare EA acknowledges the vital role of counsellors in supporting students and families and will provide for:

  • pay rises of 2.5 per cent for 2020, 2021 and 2022
  • a simplified salary scale to enhance access to higher levels
  • two pay levels for team leaders, and
  • improved travel arrangements, including confirmation that school counsellors will now be paid if needing to travel to another location after reaching their base for the day.

If school counsellors need to travel 50kms out of their normal working arrangements, this can be negotiated and claimed. There will now also be unrestricted travel for team leaders and group workers from their base.

The EA also provides enhanced provisions for access to flexible work arrangements, the right for non-primary carers to take parental leave as a specific allocation not deducted from personal/carer’s leave, five days paid family and domestic violence leave, a confirmed right to take long service leave at half pay and improvements to study leave provisions

Member engagement and a strong collective spirit have delivered an EA to protect and advance rights at work.