Developing a claim for Catholic systemic schools

Members will be aware that the current enterprise agreements covering principals, teachers and support staff in Catholic systemic schools expire at the end of 2021. This is in line with the state award applying to teachers in NSW government schools that also expires at the end of 2021.

A professional pay rise

Research by Professor John Buchanan of the University of Sydney Business School shows teachers' wages have not matched pay increases for other professionals. He found that in 1986, female teachers earned 102 per cent of the female professional average, and their male counterparts earned 99 percent of the men’s average. This fell to 93 percent (women) and 84 percent (men) in 2018. A 10-15 percent increase would “restore the historical relativity” according to Professor Buchanan.

There is also a problem in that the pay structure for teachers is compressed and, at the top end, experienced teachers are paid less than experienced lawyers, engineers and information and communications technology professionals.

The NSW Teachers Federation has used Professor Buchanan’s research to support their pay claim for increases of 10% to 15% over two years.

Significant pay increases would also help address the issue of teacher shortages, which the federal and state governments acknowledge (see, for example, the Quality Initial Teacher Education Review Discussion Paper, released by the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Learning (AITSL), and briefing papers prepared for NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell (reported in the Sydney Morning Herald).

An IEU survey conducted in February and March this year of 377 Catholic systemic schools found shortages were already evident throughout NSW. On average, about 44 percent of secondary schools had a temporary or permanent teacher vacancy, while 23 percent of primary schools were in the same position. Some reported they were unable to fill up to 70 percent of casual vacancies, while some regions, such as Armidale, were experiencing even more severe shortages.

More effective strategies are needed to deal with teacher shortages in both metro and regional areas. Policies giving greater job security to casual teachers should also be implemented.

Significant pay increases would help address the issue of teacher shortages, which both the federal and state governments acknowledge.

Support staff pay parity

Support staff in the school administrative services and classroom and learning support services streams in Catholic systemic schools are paid less than employees in corresponding classifications in government schools. These groups in government schools received increases in 2019 because of a pay equity case brought by the NSW Public Service Association.

The union will strongly urge Catholic systemic employers to rectify this disparity. This issue was outstanding from the last pay round and the union considers it must be fixed now.

Time to do the job

The union has been calling for some years for a reduced teaching load to give teachers more time to plan, prepare and consult with colleagues. Teaching hours in Australia are high by world standards and Australian teachers are working harder each year. Release time should be increased for both primary and secondary teachers by two hours each week.

Let teachers teach

Teachers are calling for an end to the paperwork and data collection and analysis that gets in the way of teaching and learning. In some cases, dioceses unnecessarily layer additional compliance measures on top of federal and state government requirements. The IEU will be consulting with principals, teachers and support staff members to identify the tasks that do not support teaching and learning outcomes and should be removed.

Updating the enterprise agreements

Parental leave conditions in Catholic schools should match those applying in government schools, including the new model of improved parental leave for fathers in the public sector.

Rates of pay and conditions applying to new promotions positions should also be clearly covered in the enterprise agreement.

Next steps

The union will consult with members in Term 4 about developing our claim for finalisation before the end of the school year.