Still waiting – AIS bargaining

IEU representatives have met twice this year in February and March with the Association of Independent Schools (AIS) to discuss our claim for new enterprise agreements for over 200 independent schools in NSW and the ACT.

The union is seeking three-year multi-enterprise agreements to provide for pay rises of 2.5% per annum (3% in the ACT) and improved conditions.

Meetings that were scheduled for 29 March and 13 May 2021 were cancelled by the AIS. The next meeting is scheduled for 8 June, nearly three months after the last meeting.

Members would be aware that the AIS refused to centrally negotiate pay rises for 2021. However most schools have agreed to increases of at least 2% in addition to the increase in superannuation that has been legislated from 1 July 2021. The union now understands that less than 40 schools out of a total of 240 schools have not agreed to pay rises for 2021. Schools that have recently agreed to increases include Blue Mountains Grammar.

Given the refusal by AIS to centrally negotiate pay rises, IEU has sought meetings with some employers to discuss 2021 pay rises.

Anglican Schools Corporation

The union met with representatives of the Anglican Schools Corporation (TASC) on 13 May to discuss the pay rises that have been offered for staff in the 16 schools they operate. TASC has offered increases of 1.5% from February 2021 and a further increase in October 2021 of 1% (now reduced to 0.5% because of the scheduled superannuation increase of 0.5% in July).

IEU requested that the proposed payment of 1% due in October be moved forward and not discounted because of the super increase. IEU pointed out that there had been no drop in enrolments in the 16 schools and that COVID had not unduly impacted on the financial position of schools. TASC agreed that enrolments were strong and that revenues had not been impacted but refused to increase the pay offer.

At the meeting IEU explained our claim for all AIS schools including elements such as increased sick leave for support staff. While the TASC representatives were reluctant to engage with us on these matters, we expressed our hope that when the AIS consulted with them and their schools they would have a greater appreciation of the perspective of our members when considering these claims.

The IEU also raised issues relating to teacher workload and what appeared to us to be a considerable variation between schools. Key issues we identified were face to face teaching loads, the numbers of ‘extras’ per term, number of hours required of pastoral care classes in addition to face-to-face teaching, and meetings. TASC was not prepared to assist is in developing a framework on these issues across their schools so organisers will approach those schools directly where members have identified a problem.

Aspect (Autism Spectrum)

Aspect has paid its employees in eight schools a one -off payment of 1.75% in two instalments. A one-off payment means the money is paid in a lump sum rather than as a percentage pay increase. The union is seeking that the payment be increased and is meeting senior representatives of Aspect shortly.

Next steps

The union is anticipating that we will receive a comprehensive response to our claim for teachers and support staff from the AIS at our meeting on 8 June. We will send members a detailed account of their position with recommendations for further action.