Independent schools and the public sector teacher pay dispute

The recent pay offer from the NSW Government for teachers in NSW public schools puts pressure on bargaining for independent schools, as well as Catholic systemic schools. The proposed NSW Government scale contains seven incremental steps with increases of 12% for new graduates and 8% at the top and was intended to commencefrom October.

Although negotiations are continuing as we go to press and those pay rises are not guaranteed, the NSW Government and the NSW Teachers Federation are in talks to resolve the dispute.

Several groups of NSW independent schools are currently bargaining with the IEU about teacher pay - NSW Catholic independent schools (Models A, B and C) and NSW Christian schools represented by the AIS.

IEU will not recommend to members a pay offer which results in outcomes below the Department of Education and Catholic systemic rates, or which reduces existing relativities. So far, offers from these groups of independent schools are around 3% - 4% per annum, well short of the NSW Government deal.

Paid parental leave is also an issue. Catholic systemic schools agreed earlier this year that the 14 weeks paid parental leave for the initial primary caregiver of a baby after birth or adoption, usually the mother, would be exclusive of term breaks.

They have also introduced 12 weeks paid parental leave for the second primary caregiver of the baby if the mother goes back to work or study. This is an entitlement in the NSW public sector and common in large corporations and reflects changing societal attitudes about the importance of fathers caring for young children.

The IEU also welcomes the improvement in increasing paid maternity leave to 24 weeks that will be provided by Catholic Education Canberra & Goulburn from January 2024.

Independent schools cannot ignore these improvements when they formulate enterprise agreements for teachers and support staff. The IEU will resist the making of enterprise agreements that set in stone sub-standard conditions for three or four years.