St Lucy’s members say yes to new EAs

IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Secretary Carol Matthews, right, and IEU Organiser Charles Wheeler with our reps from St Lucy’s School Wahroonga

After a battle lasting six months, teachers and support staff at St Lucy’s School in Wahroonga have voted a resounding ‘yes’ to new enterprise agreements.

Teachers voted unanimously in favour of their new agreeement, and 92 per cent of teacher’s aides and support staff said yes to theirs.

Changing agreements and insulting offers

Until recently, St Lucy’s, a Catholic independent school for students with disabilities, had been part of the Model C Catholic Independent Schools group for industrial purposes.

However, in September 2023, the employer announced they would move away from Model C and St Lucy’s would have its own agreement. Staff initially greeted this move with optimism, but it soon became clear the offer was inferior, and teachers and support staff would be worse off than if they had stayed on the Model C agreement.

Teachers and support staff united in their push for a better deal, and the IEU Chapter at St Lucy’s trebled – growing from 18 members in August last year to 63 in March 2024.

Unwavering unity

The chapter’s rapid growth in membership along with members’ determination and unity are a great source of inspiration and pride for the union.

Two members – both teacher’s aides – attended IEU Council in March. As they spoke about their passion for their work and the challenges they face on a daily basis, a deep sense of solidarity and pride spread throughout the gathering of more than 100 delegates.

“It’s a hard job but we love what we do, and we feel quite undervalued,” said one member.

Another member said: “It’s rewarding; all the children bring something to you every day. But I feel undervalued for the work we do and how hard we work.”

IEU support for St Lucy’s solidified through a motion passed unanimously by more than 100 Council delegates:

“The IEUA NSW/ACT Branch acknowledges the critically important work of the teachers and support staff at St Lucy’s. We call on the employer to do the same by offering salary and conditions that at least match Model C Catholic independent enterprise agreements.”

Hard-fought wins and improvements

Staff at St Lucy’s have now voted on agreements with the following wins and improvements:

  • Teachers: Pay in line with Model C
  • Support staff: Pay in line with Model C in 2024 with smaller increases in 2025 and 2026
  • Modest improvements for parental leave for teachers and support staff
  • One-off payment for support staff
  • Streamlined and modified classification structure for teacher’s aides: there is now just one pay scale that will allow teacher’s aides to progress up the scale more quickly and equitably. In particular, primary teacher’s aides will benefit with increases of up to $12,000 (or 15%) in the first year. The single pay structure is transparent and all teacher’s aides can progress at the same rate.

The IEU congratulates everyone at St Lucy’s – all the incredible members and the reps who have done an exceptional job talking with staff and developing a formidable chapter. There is power in a union!

Katie Camarena