Sub branch reports

Sub Branch meetings are an opportunity for Chapter Reps and IEU members from each region to receive updates from union organisers. They’re also a way for Reps and members to provide feedback to the union about what is happening on the ground in workplaces.

There are 19 geographical sub branches across NSW and the ACT, plus our Principals’ Sub Branch. Sub branches meet four times a year, usually in the first three or four weeks of each term. Each Sub Branch sends four or five delegates to quarterly union Council meetings.

Council is the union’s decision-making body, bringing together about 90 member delegates from throughout NSW and the ACT. The IEU Executive of 22 members is elected every three years by members.

All Chapter Reps, and any IEU members who’d like to increase their union activism, are warmly invited to attend their Sub Branch meeting. Contact your Rep or your organiser if you’d like more information.

South East Sub Branch

The South-East Sub Branch takes in schools, colleges and early childhood centres on the south coast of NSW, including Bega, Cooma, Milton, Ulladulla and Pambula.

“I wish to thank and commend all our union Reps, members, teachers and IEU organisers for their enthusiasm, hard work and commitment to their colleagues, the union, and their willingness to sacrifice for a better future for staff in schools,” President Beth Worthy said.

“Apart from Term 1, the South East Sub Branch was fortunate in 2022 to hold our branch meetings in person.

“ I thank our Reps who have done exceptionally well in communicating and helping our teachers during the last year.

“We are part of an incredibly professional community, and I appreciate the passion, hours and willingness to support student learning displayed by teachers and support staff, often to the detriment of their home life.

“I want to recognise those in the Catholic system who in 2022, have protested, campaigned, and sacrificed pay for the betterment of all.

“In our Sub Branch elections, the President, Deputy President and committee members were returned to office for 2023 with an addition of Jennie Marsh as the new Secretary.

“The IEU is thanked for the work put in to organise and run the Behaviour Management courses. They are fully booked and very much appreciated by members.

“Our chapter has expressed their appreciation for the support the IEU provides through these courses.

“It has been a privilege to be President of the South East Sub Branch and I give thanks for the opportunity that has been given to me.”

Beth Worthy

South Coast Sub Branch

The South Coast Sub Branch takes in schools, colleges and early childhood centres in the Macarthur, Southern Highlands and Wollongong areas.

IEU Council meets in Sydney four times a year. Glenn Lowe and Kathy D’ Souza described the experiences and insights being a part of IEU Council has given them. Both have been Council delegates for some years.

With attendance numbers at sub branch not as strong as pre-Covid, organisers asked Reps and members if they were in favour of a hybrid meeting model.

They voted in favour of having in-person and Zoom options available to enable wider participation and it was noted that for some Reps sub branch meetings represent a 100-150km round trip. The Zoom option will be offered from Term 2 sub branch meetings onwards, with IEU organisers seeking to re-engage all independent school sector Reps.

Reps wanted to know where the IEU plans to focus in 2023 and asked why the union is not planning more industrial action.

Reps said the union would not consider asking staff to lose another day’s pay when the employer has not been present at the table for bargaining.

The floor agreed that there was an urgent need to inform South Coast Catholic systemic school members that their employer is not playing their part. Reps stated the information must be succinct and in the form of the 16-month timeline with dot points showing what hasn’t been agreed to.

The Sub Branch positions are: President: Glenn Lowe, St Joseph’s High School Albion Park, Vice President: Marco Cimino, Magdalene High School Narellan, Secretary: Terms 2-3 Christine Garrett, St Johns Primary School Dapto, Term 4 Beth Anderson, Youth Off the Streets Farmborough Heights. The committee is: Kathy D’Souza and Jodie Howard, Nazareth Primary School.

Sub Branch meetings will be held in the Macarthur region in Term 2 and in Wollongong in Terms 3-4, with Zoom options available.

Valerie Jones

Northern Suburbs Sub Branch

The Northern Suburbs Sub Branch takes in schools, colleges and early childhood centres in the Chatswood, North Sydney, Roseville and Mosman areas.

The Sub Branch meeting was held at the North Sydney Hotel on Monday 20 February, welcoming Sue McKay as the new organiser for the Sydney Catholic Schools in the area.

Northern Suburbs is in something of a rebuilding phase having lost a number of long-standing reps due to retirement over the previous 12 months.

A hybrid (Zoom option) for meetings will also be available. Future meeting dates for Northern Suburbs Sub Branch, to be held at the North Sydney Hotel, are: Term 2: Tuesday 9 May, Term 3: Wednesday 26 July, Term 4: Tuesday 24 Oct.

The focus of Sub Branch for the remainder of 2023 will be to increase its participation levels and maintain the intensity of the current campaign for salary justice.

Anna Luedi

Central West Sub Branch

The Central West Sub Branch takes in schools, colleges and early childhood centres in Bathurst, Lithgow, Orange and Wilcannia-Forbes.

The Central West Sub Branch meeting was held in Forbes on Friday 24 February.

The meeting welcomed Donna Widdison, Organiser from the Parramatta Office who has replaced Ann-Maree McEwan, and Pat Devery, who has replaced Marilyn Jervis as Organiser for Wilcannia-Forbes.

Donna was elected as Returning Officer and the following were re-elected unopposed: President - Louise Hughes, St John’s Senior College Dubbo, Deputy President - Peter Nunn, St Laurence’s Primary School Forbes and Secretary - Nicole Downey, St Mary’s Primary School Orange.

New school Reps were welcomed: Julian Stewart, James Sheahan Orange, Robert Kreuzberger, MacKillop College Bathurst and Renae Marjoram, MacKillop College Bathurst.

Discussion centred around the slow progress in the negotiations for a new Catholic Systemic Schools Enterprise Agreement and the failure of the Catholic Education Diocese of Bathurst (CEDB) to negotiate in good faith for improvements to the Work Practices Agreement (WPA).

It also appears that the CEDB schools are not complying with Clause 31.1 of the current enterprise agreement in relation to 30 minutes uninterrupted meal break. Members would like advice on how this might be best addressed.

There was significant discussion around the need to repeal the artificial wage cap which has suppressed public sector wages and has had a flow on effect to the non-government school sector.

Sub Branch passed a motion to contact each of the candidates at the March state election for the seats of Dubbo and Barwon to establish if they would support legislation to scrap the cap. Members were advised of their position prior to the election.

Pat Devery
Professional Engagement Coordinator

Cumberland Sub Branch

The Cumberland Sub Branch includes schools, colleges and early childhood centres in Parramatta, Mt Druitt, Castle Hill, Marsden Park, Blacktown and nearby suburbs.

The Sub Branch met on 20 February at Club Blacktown, a new venue aimed at providing a more central location for our members and Reps. It was great to see new faces from different schools and sectors and engagement on all that is union.

As with all the first meetings of the year, there were numerous administrative matters to get through.

However, the focus was on members’ issues halfway through Term 1. As usual workload was top of the agenda, exacerbated by teacher shortages and illness.

Reps shared stories of how their schools were responding to the problem, with some schools making matters worse while others offering solutions to mitigate workloads, such as pupil free days, cancellation of meetings, and daysin lieu. All Reps were encouraged to review the practices at their schools, audit activities and demands and work with their chapters to minimise workload intensification.

The Sub Branch also received a request from the Labor candidate for Parramatta, Lord Mayor Donna Davis, wanting to meet our members to listen to their concerns and the issues they are experiencing in their schools.

Davis unpacked Labor’s education policy, referring to the need to remove the wages cap, address shortages in schools, improve recruitment of graduates to the profession and the retention of experienced staff.

Our members appreciated her gesture, and their questions were precise and targeted, tapping straight into the heart oftheir issues: workloads, mental health, professional development and pay.

While she admitted that she doesn’t have a background in education and does not have all the answers, she showed authentic empathy towards the concerns expressed by our teachers and support staff.

Congratulations to the Cumberland Sub Branch committee elected for 2023: President, Robert Paluzzano, Deputy President, Anthony Leons Downs, Secretary, Arietta Compton, Committee, Jennifer Tait/Blake Waters. Sub Branch meetings have been scheduled on Mondays for 15 May, 31 July and 6 November at Club Blacktown. Where Reps cannot attend, we encourage them to invite other members to attend to represent their chapters.

Lubna Haddad
Organiser/Cumberland Sub Branch Convenor

Lansdowne Sub Branch

The Lansdowne Sub Branch takes in schools, colleges and easrly childhood centres in the Fairfield, Liverpool, Georges Hall, Campbelltown and Bankstown area.

New tedious proformas emerging in Sydney Catholic schools that require teachers to answer such questions as: ‘What capabilities and practices are evident in the performance of your role?’ and ‘How do you know, beyond self-reflection, that you have achieved elements of your role?’ And, to choose teacher standards aligned with two ‘SMART’ goals.

IEU to prosecute the removal of this superfluous documentation. There is overlap with NESA requirements for maintenance of accreditation.

Formally brief introductory sessions with groups of parents are now developing into P&T style individual interviews in some schools. Teachers are being asked to schedule meetings with all parents. This is unnecessary additional workload that does not serve teaching and learning, but saps teacher energy and time at the beginning of the school year.

SCS failing to register PD that occurs during allocated PD days. Teachers missing out on registrable hours. School leadership needs assistance to register PD. Two hours of mandated training required to administer test as it is now online. Some schools not releasing teachers to undertake the training. IEU to ensure that teachers are released to undertake such requirements.

James Jenkins-Flint (IEU)
James McFarlane Branch President All Saints Catholic College Casula?

North West Sub Branch

The North West Sub Branch includes schools, colleges and early childhood centres in Armidale, Tamworth and around the New England area.

The Branch AGM was held at Armidale Bowling Club on 24 February.

Several delegates reported that the start of the year felt more like a typical Term 4 given the demands on everyone’s time. Despite this, some school managers seemed to think that they will get the best out of their exhausted staff by re-issuing Codes of Conduct while advising staff that they need to be ‘on time, on task and on budget’.

Concerns were raised about the provision of release time in Catholic systemic primary schools, including whether early career teachers were receiving their allocated release as prescribed in the Work Practices Agreement in their first and second year of teaching. Also, whether executive staff were receiving their allocated release or whether this was being surrendered to cover classes or provide support for other teachers.

Some secondary school chapters reported that their schools were increasing release time for teachers in an effort to address workload pressures as well as having teachers underload in order to cover staff absences. Such staffing efforts are to be applauded.

Questions were asked about support staff undertaking playground supervisions. The IEU does not oppose this and many of our members are happy to take on the extra work, but there are conditions and they are clearly articulated in the Catholic Systemic Schools Enterprise Agreement (Clause 13.1):

“Only general employees in the classroom and learning support services or school administrative services streams may be required to perform playground supervision, provided the employer has developed and implemented a playground supervision policy in consultation with the union. Such a policy must contain provisions that: (a) specify the levels of training to be provided to general employeesv(b) ensure appropriate levels of support and assistance, and (c) recognise that the introduction of playground supervision should not increase existing workloads of general employees without commensurate increases in their paid hours of work, unless playground supervision takes the place of another of the general employee’s tasks.”

Congratulations to the North West Sub Branch committee elected for 2023: President, Libby Lockwood, Deputy President Denise McHugh and Secretary Fiona O’Neill. Additional committee members were: Judy Miller, Dale Cain, Kara Spicer and Teresa Boyd.

Our Sub Branch meetings have been scheduled as follows: Term 2: 12 May, Tamworth Hotel, Term 3: 28 July, Armidale Bowling Club,Term 4: 10 November, Tamworth Hotel. Where Reps cannot attend we encourage them to invite other members to attend to represent their chapters.

David Towson IEU Assistant Secretary
North West Sub Branch Convenor

Southern Suburbs Sub Branch

The Southern Suburbs Sub Branch takes in schools, colleges and early childhood centres in Campsie, Kingsgrove, the Sutherland Shire and Cronulla.

Did it rain? Did it ever! It was practically biblical. The Zoom attendees at the Southern Sydney Sub Branch missed out on floating back home but along with their in-person colleagues were able to express their concerns regarding increasing workloads and additional demands.

Among the 16 Reps there were reports of increased expectations on members to attend open days, barbecues, meet and greets, and in one school a Friday cocktail evening.

Additional/excessive sport commitments and camp attendance has, however, had seen days in lieu being offered in some secondary schools to encourage voluntary participation.

Some schools reported successful ‘offsetting’ of additional hours requests. There were examples of open days being reclassified as twilight meetings and some schools having shorter or postponed meetings.

Schools experiencing restructure reported having extra open days. Meetings lengths and frequencies were a mixed bag across the sector. The representatives from AIS schools suggested that a focus on improving conditions might encourage greater union involvement.

Josef Dabbs