Catholic systemic schools - productive discussions

The IEU is pleased to be able to report that after 15 months of negotiations, we are making progress at last in the negotiations for a new Catholic Systemic Schools Enterprise Agreement.

A dispute about the bargaining was notified by the IEU to the Fair Work Commission in February. Commissioner Ryan of the Commission conducted a conciliation of the parties on 17 March, in which the IEU was represented by barrister Leo Saunders. The union and the employers both considered these discussions were productive.

Representatives of CER and the dioceses responded to concerns raised by the union, including the following key issues.

Length of enterprise agreement

The IEU is seeking an enterprise agreement (EA) with a shorter expiry date of 31 December 2023. This date is consistent with the end date of the award that applies to teachers in NSW government schools.

Flow on of pay increases in government sector

Employers have committed to match percentage pay increases in NSW and ACT government teacher pay rates that might occur within the term of the EA. However, the IEU is seeking changes to make sure all types of increases that might occur before 31 December 2023 in government teacher rates (for example a lump sum payment or a flat dollar increase) are included. This would guarantee any increases that government teachers might receive if there is a change of government in NSW would flow to members in Catholic schools.

Support staff pay

The IEU discussed in detail our concerns about the support staff pay offer. This includes the date of effect of increases, back pay, the rate for regional primary schools below 400 students and the translocation arrangements of senior administrative staff in larger schools.

Teacher release

The IEU is seeking release time for 2023, 2024 and 2025 for teachers to become familiar with new curricula, in line with release being provided in NSW government schools. We are also seeking regular scheduled release for early career teachers and their mentors. In the ACT, we will seek to match improvements that have been offered as part of current negotiations relating to ACT Government teachers.

Temporary employees

The IEU has sought further discussion on the arrangements for temporary employees, including learning support staff on recurring fixed term contracts.

Next steps

Following these productive discussions in the Commission, it was agreed that negotiations between the IEU and Catholic systemic employers would continue on three levels – central negotiations, negotiations about local diocesan issues and drafting discussions about the precise words of the EA. The IEU understands that detailed responses will be provided by employers to the IEU on these issues before the report back before the Commission on 6 April 2023.

In the meantime, members are encouraged to continue to wear yellow and liaise with their IEU Organiser for assistance in addressing workload problems at their school.