On 15 December 2022, the IEU received a letter from Catholic Employment Relations (CER) in response to our claims for improved pay and conditions for teachers and support staff in Catholic systemic schools.
Some diocesan directors described this as “a complete offer” and the “best possible outcome” for the new enterprise agreement (EA).
However, the offer still falls short, as the directors must have understood.
CER stated that the dioceses will match the pay offers made by the NSW and ACT governments for staff in NSW and ACT government schools.
However, the offer they have made fails to match the package in the government sector.
A three-year enterprise agreement
Catholic dioceses are proposing an EA that would be in force for three years from the date of approval of the EA by the Fair Work Commission. Even if an EA were made quickly this year (and we still have not received any draft EA clauses, let alone a complete draft of the EA) this would mean the EA would be in place until mid 2026. In the government sector, the teachers award has a nominal term until the end of next year, 2024.
For teachers, CER has agreed to match “percentage increases on base wages” in the government sector during the period of the EA but the union would be unable to make any other claims for improvements in conditions or for new classifications that might be implemented in government schools. The offer also does not include matching of lump sum payments as occurred in 2022.
For support staff in NSW and the ACT, in 2024 and 2025, percentage pay rises would reflect those paid in NSW government schools but would be paid six months later – this would mean that the 2024 pay rise would be paid in January 2025 and support staff would not receive any increase in 2024!
It is an unprecedented proposal that the Catholic Systemic Schools EA would extend nearly two years beyond the government sector award and preclude the union from making claims for such a long period.
Support staff pay increases
CER has not agreed to our claim for pay increases for support staff in line with rates applying in government schools. It appears that sticking points are rates of pay for senior administrative staff in schools with an enrolment below 400 students and the definitions of the classifications for Aboriginal Education Officers. The pay rates and details of classifications proposed by CER have still not been provided to the union.