Hear our voice

Campaign update

The IEU is campaigning for better pay and conditions for teachers and support staff in Catholic diocesan schools. Here we report on progress – and next steps.

The enterprise agreement covering teachers and support staff in Catholic diocesan schools expired on 31 December 2021. The IEU had already lodged a claim with Catholic dioceses in November 2021.

The dioceses finally came to the bargaining table on 2 February 2022, with subsequent meetings on 23 February, 23 March and 20 April. (The employers cancelled one meeting, scheduled for 10 March, for technical reasons to do with the Notice of Employee Representational Rights.) The dioceses were represented by Catholic Employment Relations (CER) and representatives of some individual dioceses at the meetings.

You can read all the background in Newsmonth#2:


The union’s claims

The union’s claims for the new enterprise agreements (covering members in 600 Catholic diocesan schools in NSW and the ACT) include:

  • Pay teachers what they’re worth (an increase of 10% to 15% over two years)
  • Give support staff a fair deal
  • Let teachers teach – cut paperwork
  • Allow time to plan
  • End staff shortages.

Further details of our claims are set out in the February NewsExtra on our website: bit.ly/NewsExtraFeb22

The employers’ offer

The union received the employers’ first written response to our claims after the meeting on Wednesday 6 April. The Diocesan Directors also circulated this response to employees. While the union acknowledges that the meeting on 6 April was conducted with goodwill and that some progress was made, the employers’ response falls short in almost all areas. For example:

  • there is no pay offer for teachers in addition to the 2.04% increase already paid
  • although dioceses have agreed in principle to increase support staff pay rates to a level comparable with the rates paid to support staff in government schools, no specific proposal has been put to the union, and the phase-in period of the new rates is also unacceptably long (new rates will not be phased in fully until 2024)
  • here is no offer to improve casual teacher pay as a measure to address the teacher shortage issue
  • employers have refused to improve long service leave for support staff
  • employers have not agreed to additional face-to-face release other than a one-off offer of an additional pupil-free day in 2022 (to be directed by principals).

In terms of teacher pay rises, the employers have said they will “at least” match the percentage increases paid by the NSW and ACT Governments but have not given any specific commitment to pay any additional amount. This means a maximum pay rise of 2.04% for teachers in NSW, including the increase already paid. The ACT Government’s position is not yet known.

The employers have also cited the NSW and ACT Governments’ position as the basis for rejecting the union’s claim for improvements in release from face-to-face teaching. They have indicated they would agree to “at least” match any improvements in the public sector, but again have not made any commitment to a reduction if there is no reduction in face to face teaching in the public sector.

The union and its members consider the employers’ response to be unacceptable.

Protected Action Ballot Order

Almost 540 IEU Chapters have advised us they want the right to take protected action in support of our claims for your new enterprise agreement.

Accordingly, the union filed an application with the Fair Work Commission for a Protected Action Ballot Order, which was approved by the Commission on 14 April.

This means IEU members who work in schools that voted to participate in the ballot will be able to vote for the right to take protected action. Voting will open on Wednesday 11 May at 6am and close on Tuesday 17 May at 5pm.

The ballot will ask you to vote Yes/No to authorise two types of protected action:

  • A potential stoppage of work
  • The possibility of wearing or displaying union slogans promoting the campaign and the provision of information concerning the campaign to members of the community (including parents and the media).

There are still some technicalities. For the Protected Action Ballot to be carried, two requirements must be fulfilled:

  • half the members eligible to vote must participate in the ballot
  • more than half of those who vote, must vote yes.

For this reason we urge all members – including casuals – in schools that voted to be part of the ballot, to participate.

This campaign is a once-in a-decade opportunity to gain improvements in teachers and support staff pay and conditions. Be part of this campaign for the future of the profession and our schools.

We will communicate the result to members of the ballot as soon as it is declared, which is likely to be soon after the ballot closes.

What you can do
Keep a close eye on your email for updates and info
Vote in the Protected Action Ballot
Urge other members to vote.

Chris Wilkinson

President, IEUA NSW/ACT Branch

"The union brings everyone together – we’re working together for better pay and conditions. I joined the union over 40 years ago and I encourage all new teachers to join. What you get out of the union is what you put in – you are the union. Together we can make change. We’re running the Hear our Voice campaign because teachers’ workloads are intensifying more and more, and teachers are not getting paid what they should be paid for the hours they work. We’re looking for a decent pay rise. The Gallop Report recommended increases of 10% to 15%, which is fair for the work teachers do [see Valuing the teaching profession: An independent inquiry, 2021; commissioned by the NSW Teachers Federation; download here: www.nswtf.org.au/inquiry. At the moment, young graduates are not going into the teaching profession because of the pay and workload. When I talk to my Year 12 students, not many of them these days want to go into teaching – it’s just not an attractive career for most young people today. So workload reduction and pay increases are what we’re looking for in this campaign. We want you to hear our voice, especially for the younger ones coming along behind us."

Carolyn Collins

Vice President, Support Staff, IEUA NSW/ACT Branch

"I work in a primary school in a diverse learning unit for children from Year 1 to Year 6. I love my job – this is my 36th year. I joined the union because I’ve always believed in justice. I've come from someone who sat outside with children to teach them reading in the hot or the cold. Then I decided to do a Diploma in Social Science. Any course that comes along, I will do it to increase my knowledge of working with children. I just love my children. I am their school grandmother and I just love, love, love my job. This year is going to be the most significant and historical year for support staff. So we need more support staff to join – we can’t just leave it up to a few to fight this battle. This battle is huge, and while we walk beside teachers, we still have to do it for ourselves. We are professionals. Our roles are as valuable as those in government schools – so we need to achieve their pay increase and not sell ourselves short. We need to have collegiality with one another and the pay that equates to it. It’s wonderful we get all these lovely platitudes. But my response is ‘don’t just say it, pay it’! We need to be heard. We want more support staff to join the union and fight the good fight. So hear our voice!