Catholic independent school staff in limbo

The IEU has been unsuccessful in achieving new enterprise agreements for teachers and support staff in Catholic independent schools.

Model A schools

Negotiations for new enterprise agreements have stalled with a group of eight schools, called Model A Catholic independent schools, following the expiry of the existing Model A enterprise agreements in December 2020.

The schools are Brigidine College St Ives; Mater Dei; Mount St Benedict College; Our Lady of Mercy College Parramatta; St Vincent’s College (teachers only); St Scholastica’s College Glebe and St Joseph’s College Hunters Hill. Santa Sabina College is seeking its own enterprise agreement (EA) but is negotiating together with this group of schools.

The employer representing the schools in bargaining is Catholic Employment Relations (CER).

The union consulted with members in February and March concerning the new teacher and support staff enterprise agreements proposed by CER. CER offered pay rises broadly in line with those that were agreed in mid 2021 for Association of Independent Schools (AIS) independent schools enterprise agreements.

The proposed increases were 2.28% in 2021 (already paid), 2.04% in 2022, 2.04% in 2023 and 2.04% in 2024. Members indicated they were unhappy about the pay rises, which are lower than the increases the union is claiming for members in Catholic systemic schools. The proposed increases are also well below the rate of inflation that is currently predicted over the life of the agreements.

The IEU provided detailed feedback to CER concerning the draft agreements and advised CER of members’ views on the pay rises. As an alternative, the union suggested a one-year agreement. Santa Sabina College, however, proceeded in the first week of April to put both the teachers and the support staff enterprise agreements (which would remain in place until December 2024 if endorsed) to the vote of their employees.

Support staff at Santa Sabina College endorsed the support staff enterprise agreement by a narrow majority but teachers rejected the teachers enterprise agreement by a margin the college has refused to reveal.

The union is seeking the resumption of negotiations for an improved outcome for both teachers at Santa Sabina College and teachers and support staff in the other Model A schools.

Model B and C schools

This group of approximately 30 Catholic independent schools issued Notices of Employee Representational Rights, the formal start of bargaining for new enterprise agreements, in February this year. The union then wrote to CER with a detailed claim that had been endorsed by members in the Model B and C schools in February.

However, no negotiating meetings have been held, despite a request by the union that bargaining commence.

The union was advised that schools were considering making an interim payment (as occurred in systemic schools), but this has not been confirmed.

The union will continue to push for the commencement of negotiations as soon as possible.