Employers table a shoddy deal

Catholic systemic employers have presented these administrative adjustments to IEU members:

an increase of 0.25% back paid to the first pay period on or after 1 July 2022

a lump sum equivalent to 0.25% of the employee’s salary as of 30 June 2022 (applied to six months only); and

an increase of 2.54% from the first full pay period on or after 1 January 2023.

This low offer reflects adherence (with the exception of the Broken Bay Diocese which is offering slightly more) to the Catholic pay parity principle, that is, not a cent more, nor a day before, our public school colleagues.

While the NSW Government restricts pay rises for NSW public servants by legislation to 3% per annum (including superannuation), no such impediment exists in Catholic systemic schools. Put simply, there is no legal or technical impediment to employers offering increases beyond public school rates.

In an effort to untangle the link between government school teachers and IEU members, the union boldly sought – and was granted – leave to intervene in a NSW Industrial Relations Commission hearing recently in an effort to present our case for increased salaries alongside the NSW Teachers Federation.

The NSW Industrial Relations Commission handed down its decision in accordance with the legislation. It was not an independent judgement about what teachers and support staff should be receiving.

The pay cap imposed on NSW public servants, which also snares Catholic systemic school members, is a blunt instrument that does not address cost-of-living increases, complex workloads and the teacher shortage. The shoddy offer will not assist the profession, either in the short term or the long term.

A turning point

The NSW election is will be held on 25 March 2023. The NSW Labor Party has committed to abolishing the State Government’s imposed pay cap. IEU members will now be seeking a political solution to workload issues, non-competitive salaries, and to ensure support staff salaries match those in government schools.

Pay parity for support staff, which has been in play since 2019, is a particularly galling matter. For employers to adopt a strategy of further delay is inconceivable.

What’s next?

Term 1 2023 will be busy. IEU members will be updated regarding how to engage via Unions NSW, with the push to rid NSW of the legislated pay cap for teachers.

The resolve of members to pursue salary justice and achieve more manageable workloads is unwavering. It’s unreasonable for Catholic systemic employers to continue aligning themselves with NSW Government public service outcomes.

Member dissatisfaction with the advice provided by the directors of the various dioceses is profound. Of particular concern was the sentence that indicated:

“We have provided a pay offer that responds to all of the claims put forward on your behalf in the IEU’s log of claims.”

This struggle has a way to go. Maintain the pressure at school and diocesan level. The recent one-hour stoppage by over 300 schools is the temperature gauge the union relies upon.