Independent schools delay bargaining

The Association of Independent Schools (AIS) has advised the union on behalf of more than 200 independent schools that bargaining for new enterprise agreements will not recommence before late September at the earliest.

The current Multi-Enterprise Agreements (MEAs) applying to teachers and support staff will expire at the end of January 2021. These MEAs therefore do not contain a pay rise for 2021.


Schools issued Notices of Representational Rights in November 2019 to signal their intention to commence bargaining. The union had expected these discussions to commence in March 2020 but, unfortunately, the AIS postponed bargaining meetings because of the pandemic.

Schools advised the AIS that they were not in a position to respond to the union’s claim because of the need to concentrate on teaching and learning in the difficult environment of Term 2.

The AIS has now advised the union that some schools are still unable to respond to our claims until they know the impact of COVID-19 on their enrolments and their finances more generally going forward. For this reason, the AIS is unable to put a common position across the 200 schools.

What has the union claimed?

The detailed union claim was circulated to IEU Chapters for endorsement in March and will be recirculated in coming weeks. Key elements of the claim are set out below.

Pay rises in independent schools should not be less than 2.5% per annum for teachers and support staff, with higher pay rises for teachers in the ACT (because of the higher increases received by teachers in government and non-government schools in the ACT).

Pay rises in independent schools should not be less than 2.5% per annum for teachers and support staff.

In standards model schools, access for teachers to the Band 3 Experienced Teacher classification must be improved and the Band 2 Proficient rate is too low (it is currently about $6000 below the top Proficient teacher pay rate in government and Catholic schools). The timing of movement between the bands is also unreasonably restricted because the MEA provides teachers can only progress to Band 3 in February and only progress from Graduate to Proficient in February and July.

In hybrid model schools, the union is seeking a shorter teacher pay scale for Band 2 Proficient teachers so you can progress to the top of Band 2 more quickly. We are also seeking an increase in the Band 3 rate to match the Experienced Teacher rate in standards model schools. The timing of progression between the pay bands is also an issue.

For support staff, long service leave and sick leave should be improved as the leave entitlements are well below those of teachers and also below that applying to support staff in other school sectors.

The union has also made a number of conditions claims for all employees. These include emergency disaster leave of five days a year if you are unable to attend work because of a natural disaster, and extending the 14 weeks’ paid parental leave to fathers who are primary carers of their newborn or adopted child.

Next steps

The union will ask Chapters to meet in coming weeks to endorse the claim and add any additional matters you think should be raised in bargaining. Strong support at Chapter level for the union’s position will be essential to achieve the pay rises and other improvements we are seeking. Your organiser will be happy to assist.