Supporting members in diverse workplaces to achieve enterprise agreements

The IEU has a long and strong commitment to ensuring that members are protected by enterprise agreements (EAs) that provide employees with clarity and certainty about their remuneration and conditions of employment. An EA outlines pay rates and provides details of conditions such as leave, classification structures and hours of work.

EAs also contain dispute-resolution provisions involving the Fair Work Commission (FWC) if a dispute cannot be resolved between the IEU/employee and employer. They are also legally enforceable where an employer does not comply with their obligations under the agreement.

While there is considerable focus on the union’s ‘Hear Our Voice’ campaign for Catholic systemic schools and also on gaining new EAs for Catholic independent schools, IEU members in other sectors such as independent (AIS) schools, early childhood education, school counsellors, post-secondary colleges and other diverse workplaces also have in place or seek the protection of registered agreements to protect their rights at work.

At present, for example, following the second EA ‘no’ vote by Greater Sydney Adventist teachers, the IEU met with Greater Sydney Adventist HR on 3 August to progress EA negotiations.

Greater Sydney Adventist members hope their employer will now be open to discussions about a shorter agreement than the four years originally proposed (which had only a 1.5% increase in the final year), about the industry standard of 14 rather than the current 12 weeks parental leave, and about addressing some of the working conditions concerns identified by members. (These issues were also raised by teachers in the ‘listening’ sessions conducted by the employer.) Sincere thanks to the IEU members in Greater Sydney Adventist Schools for their engagement and perseverance to achieve the best possible EA.

At Woodbury Autism Education and Research School at Baulkham Hills, therapist members who understandably were not happy with a proposed four-year agreement with 2.5% per year, no paid parental leave and only 10 days personal/carer’s leave, voted down the EA after their concerns and the IEU’s input were ignored by the employer. (The teachers and support staff at this special school are on the relevant independent sector MEAs.)

There will now be further consultation with members and hopefully productive negotiations with the employer via the AIS to achieve an agreement that better enhances the pay and conditions of the Woodbury therapist members.

School counsellor members employed by CatholicCare in the Sydney Archdiocese have reiterated their wish to be covered by an industrial instrument as per CatholicCare counsellors in Canberra-Goulburn and Wollongong and those employed by the Parramatta Diocese.

Following the decision of CatholicCare Sydney Archdiocese not to commence bargaining with the IEU, the union met again with members/potential members on 21 July.

The IEU is writing again to CatholicCare Sydney Archdiocese to seek EA bargaining but is also informing members/potential members of what is required for a Majority Support Determination in the FWC if the employer keeps declining to enter EA negotiations. Again, the collective support of these members is greatly appreciated.

The IEU looks forward to continuing to work with members in a variety of systems and workplaces to ensure they are supported by collective industrial agreements to protect their pay, conditions and other rights at work.