Union wins:

Dioceses agree to payment of 2.5% salary increase and back payment

Now more than ever it is important that our members in Catholic systemic schools have their work recognised and valued.

The IEU has received confirmation from the Catholic Commission for Employment Relations (CCER) of all 11 dioceses’ willingness to pay the 2.5% salary increase for principals, teachers and support staff in NSW and ACT Catholic systemic schools, due since 1 January 2020 (3% increase for teachers in the ACT).

This across the board pay increase, overdue since the expiration of the previous enterprise agreement at the end of last year, has been a key claim of the union’s current enterprise agreement negotiations.

The dioceses had earlier stated that pay rises would only be paid after a successful “Yes” vote on the new Catholic Systemic Schools Enterprise Agreement, which is not expected to occur until September.

However, one diocese, the Diocese of Broken Bay, announced on 3 July that they would pay the increase immediately as a goodwill gesture and by 8 July 2020, CCER announced that all the other dioceses would follow their lead.

What it means

“This back payment, and salary adjustments going forward, will make a real difference to our members,” said IEU Secretary, Mark Northam.

“Now more than ever it is important that our members in Catholic systemic schools have their work recognised and valued.”

Members in Catholic systemic schools can expect to receive this union negotiated pay increase later this month or in August, and to see the additional back payment of the overdue amount – backdated to the first full pay period on or after 1 January 2020. Teachers in the ACT will enjoy a back pay of 3% from 1 July 2020.

Who it covers

The increases will apply to employees covered by the Catholic Systemic Schools Enterprise Agreement (EA), the NSW and ACT Catholic Systemic Principals MEA, the Principals (Archdiocese of Sydney) EA and the ACT Early Learning Centre EA. The increases are down payments of the pay increases under new proposed enterprise agreements which we are in the process of negotiating (or in the case of the ACT Early Learning Centre EA, guaranteed under the existing enterprise agreement). Employees not covered by an enterprise agreement will therefore not automatically receive the increase.

CCER has clarified that the payment of these salary increases “in no way represents a departure from the collective positions put and agreed by [the IEU] with respect to the enterprise agreement.”

These negotiations are ongoing, with the union securing a commitment from all dioceses to lock in pre-COVID understandings regarding improvements.

The union and dioceses are progressing discussions to finalise improvements to Work Practices Agreements (WPAs). The specifics of these WPAs vary between dioceses, and include rules around class sizes, meeting lengths and frequencies, and other similar conditions.

“Finalising the WPAs is an important dimension of this settlement,” said Northam.

“The WPAs are there to provide certainty to our members in troubled times.”

While being diocese specific, WPAs are still referenced in the enterprise agreement and, importantly, are enforceable in the Fair Work Commission.

The next steps

The union hopes to clarify the details of the proposed changes within the next few weeks. However, we have been advised by CCER that they do not expect the enterprise agreements for teachers, support staff and principals to be ready for voting until late in Term 3. The improvements agreed for the Catholic Systemic Schools Enterprise Agreement, where relevant, will also apply to the NSW and ACT Principals Enterprise Agreement.

In the case of principals in Sydney Catholic Schools, negotiations will occur directly with SCS.

“IEU members in Catholic systemic schools will no doubt feel relieved that negotiations – which were interrupted by COVID-19 - are now drawing to a close.”

Some other benefits of the new Catholic Systemic Schools Enterprise Agreement will include:

Changes to teacher classifications and progressions

Some teachers will benefit from changes to classifications that have been agreed in principle (the union has not yet seen detailed wording for the changes).

For those small number of teachers employed prior to 2014 who may not yet have transferred to the standards pay scale, this process will now be expedited. This will particularly assist part time teachers employed before 2014.

Of particular benefit to female teachers, and others taking parental leave, will be the gain that up to one year of unpaid parental leave will be counted as teaching service for the purpose of salary progression.

Experience as an accredited teacher in an early learning centre from 2020 will now also be recognised as teaching service.

Emergency disaster leave
Up to five days per annum of emergency disaster leave will now be made available as a new leave entitlement for employees unable to attend work because of a natural disaster. This is in addition to the entitlement under personal/carer’s leave for cases of personal emergency.

Family and domestic violence leave
Dioceses have agreed to match NSW public sector conditions for paid family and domestic violence leave. This provides ten days per calendar year for full time and part time employees experiencing domestic and family violence and may be used to look for alternate accommodation, attend counselling and legal appointments, attend court etc.

Support staff joint working party
For support staff, the union and CCER will form a joint working party which will include member representation. The working party will attempt to reach agreement on the application of pay rises that have been paid to support staff in government schools.

Carol Matthews
Deputy Secretary