Bargaining begins for new Catholic Systemic EA

The main enterprise agreement that applies to employees in Catholic systemic schools in NSW and the ACT expired on 31 December 2021. Here is the claim and how the IEU and its members can progress it.

The IEU’s claim for the new enterprise agreement EA, as endorsed by members last year, includes:

Expansion of coverage of the EA: All staff employed in schools should have enterprise agreement protection – this includes staff in early learning centres and out-of-school-hours care (OSHC) attached to schools, counsellors, boarding house staff and business managers employedin schools.

Pay rises: The union is seeking a 10-15% pay rise over two years for all members in line with the claim by the NSW Teachers Federation on behalf of teachers in NSW government schools. The increase that will be paid by dioceses of 2.04 percent was not agreed by the union and is not enough. (Note that teachers in the ACT have traditionally received the same pay rises as teachers in ACT government schools, so they will not receive the 2.04 percent increase and the settlement in the ACT may be different to that in NSW.)

Parental leave: Parental leave conditions in Catholic systemic schools should match those applying in NSW government schools, including the new model of an additional 12 weeks of paid parental leave for the father/partner to be the primary carer, to be taken in the 12 months following the birth, provided the mother is not taking parental leave at the same time. In the case of concurrent parental leave, where the employee (usually the father) is taking leave at the same time as the primary carer (the mother), the leave should be increased to two weeks rather than two weeks of which one week is deducted from personal/carer’s leave.

Teacher issues

Teacher shortages: More effective strategies need to be developed to deal with teacher shortages in both metropolitan and regional areas. To attract and retain teachers, greater job security for casual and temporary teachers is essential, just as it is that workload issues are addressed. Rural incentives need to be increased to match those in the public sector. Casual teacher pay rates should no longer be capped at Band 2 (Proficient) Level 1.

Professional time to do the job: The union has been calling for some years for a reduced teaching load to provide teachers more time to plan, prepare and consult with their colleagues. Release time should be increased for both primary and secondary teachers by at least two hours each week.

Let teachers teach: Tasks that do not support teaching and learning outcomes should be removed from teachers’ work. IEU Organisers are raising these issues in negotiations with dioceses.

Promotions positions: Rates of pay and conditions of all promotions positions should be protected in enterprise agreements. Release for Coordinators should be increased and there should be a cap on meeting times for Coordinators.

Support staff issues

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 NSW government schools. This disparity must be fixed now.

Support staff conditions: Support staff have a lower rate of accrual of long service leave after 10 years than teachers. The union has consistently sought for this to be increased. We will need the strong support of members to achieve this. Staff who are experienced in a similar position in a government or other non-government school should not start on the lowest pay step for the classification.

Improved job security for special needs and learning support assistants: Many staff still have ongoing temporary appointments despite years of employment.

Next steps

After a slow start, dioceses finally agreed to meet with the union on 2 February 2022 to commence negotiations. At this meeting, the union went through our claim in detail and the reasons for it. Dioceses have issued Notices of Employee Representational Rights to employees, signalling the formal start of bargaining.

What you can do

For the union and its members to be successful in this claim, it is crucial that we have maximum member support. We need an IEU Rep in every school to facilitate communications between the union and its members. Here’s what you can do:

  • Approach any colleagues in your workplace who have not yet joined the union and invite them to join:
  • If there is no Union Rep in your school, hold a Chapter meeting to elect one; invite your IEU Organiser who will be happy to attend (either in person or via Zoom) to assist with this process. Your Organiser can answer any questions you may have.
  • If you need to more information, call or email your IEU Organiser, or call the IEU on 8202 8900 and ask for the Duty Officer.