Member input supports barganing for Adventist schools

With the support of members, the IEU has been engaged in bargaining for a new enterprise agreement (EA) for teachers employed by the Seventh Day Adventist Greater Sydney Conference and for teachers and support staff in by the North NSW Conference.

Meetings with members/potential members were held in November. The EA claims were informed by the valuable input from members at these meetings.

STOP PRESS: The Greater Sydney Conference, without further talks with the IEU, has said it will hold a vote on your enterprise agreement from 6 to 9 Dec. The IEU will consult with you about the best possible way to advance your salaries and conditions.

Read all the background here.

Wages and classification

Greater Sydney Conference (GSC) has proposed annual increases of 2.25% over the four-year term of the new EA with no change to the classification structure. For North NSW the pay offer is for an annual 2.3% increases over the four years.

Unfortunately, the proposed classification structure and salary rates no longer match the standards-based model now in NSW government schools, and most schools in the non-government education sector, resulting in lower wages for Seventh Day Adventist (SDA) teachers.

Most importantly, the SDA’s classification structure has Proficient teachers moving through seven incremental salary steps as opposed to five increments in NSW government schools and Catholic systemic schools.

The IEU is seeking a move to a standards-based classification model for teachers to align with teachers in NSW government and Catholic systemic schools. A five-step scale will allow teachers a quicker progression to the top salary step.

The North NSW Conference has proposed the introduction of the Experienced/Highly Accomplished classification. This has not been proposed by Greater Sydney and members are also seeking implementation of this teacher classification level to match the Band 3 classifications and the HAT rates of pay applicable in NSW government schools and Catholic systemic schools.

Due to the current teachers’ work value claim in NSW government schools, the SDA pay offer of 2.25% for four years raises concerns about maintaining parity with NSW government and Catholic systemic schools.

The union will seek to ensure that the proposed EA provides for any significant disparity in wages to be addressed during the life of the EA.

Work practices

Based upon member input, the union is also seeking a range of improvements in working conditions for teachers.

At present, face-to-face teaching hours for secondary teachers are determined at each school. For secondary teachers, there needs to be consistency of face-to-face teaching hours across all schools operated by the GSC.

The union is seeking a cap of 21 face-to-face teaching hours a week, as is already available in North NSW, along with a clear definition of what is included as face-to-face teaching hours for both agreements. Responsibilities such as extended home room, chapel and assemblies should be included in the 21-hour limit.

As extras and covers impact on a teacher’s overall workload, taking time from other duties such as planning, assessment and collaboration, student and parent meetings etc, the union proposes a limit on the number of extras and covers a teacher can be required to do by instituting an annual extras cap of 15 hours per school year.

For primary teachers, the union is seeking an additional clause to enable rescheduling of a teacher’s RFF where it has been lost because of a school-related activity (including a lack of available replacement staff).

Members have also requested provisions for additional release time to undertake planning for excursions and camps, and release from duty on return from extended overnight excursions to ensure the work health and safety of staff.

As per most diocesan Work Practices Agreements, the IEU is seeking additional release time for a teacher who mentors graduate teacher(s) to obtain accreditation or registration at the Proficient teacher standard.

The union also seeks a more detailed process for the appointment procedures for leadership positions be included in the EA. This must include consultation where there are proposed changes to the leadership positions within a school.


Under current GSC arrangements, teachers taking a leave of absence to engage in professional development and other professional growth opportunities such as NAPLAN and HSC marking, study leave, and practicum placements while studying, are required to apply for leave without pay (LWOP) and utilise their accrued long service leave (LSL).

The union is seeking to amend the LWOP provisions of the EA to allow an exemption from the requirement to utilise LSL when the absence is to undertake professional activities.

The proposed EA reflects only the minimum National Employment Standard (NES) of five days of unpaid leave for reasons of family and domestic violence.

The union is seeking to have this converted to paid leave, as is available to teachers in other sectors. Having such leave as LWOP adversely impacts vulnerable employees through a loss of income at the time the leave is taken.

It also has the potential to trigger further adjustments impacting on payment and accrual of other leave entitlements and salary progression.

As the current EA allows for an adjustment to annual leave and non-term time payments and progression after only five days of LWOP, the union is seeking to increase this to 20 days in line with the provisions in most other NSW schools.

The claim in relation to the North NSW Support and Operational Staff Agreement aims to provide parity of long service leave accrual and parental leave entitlements, which are currently less than those provided to teachers employed by the Conference, access to paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave, as well as the introduction of wage averaging provisions for employees who are currently stood down without pay during non-term weeks.

Formal EA bargaining meetings have commenced. An initial meeting was held with the Greater Sydney Conference on 9 November. Representatives from North NSW met with the union on 22 and 29 October. Discussions are continuing.

The IEU values the engagement of members and looks forward to working with them to achieve an EA which the union can recommend for a ‘yes’ vote.

Pam Smith
Assistant Secretary
Carolyn Moore
Industrial Officer