The strong resolve of school counsellors in a recent protected action ballot has almost certainly contributed to the progress in negotiations for a long sought after enterprise agreement (EA) for counsellors employed by Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta (CEDP).
The postal protected action ballot was conducted by the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) in accordance with the Order issued on 24 March 2017 by the Fair Work Commission (FWC) .
An outstanding 76.67% of counsellors on the roll voted in the ballot and 100% of those who voted supported all five of the proposed actions. These actions included potential stoppages, the wearing of badges or other insignia and the provision of information in any form to members of the school community, including the media. The Union congratulates counsellors for this great response, particularly given the effort needed to respond to a postal ballot in a time period that included the Easter break.
The Union will have until 20 May 2017 to exercise any protected action should this be necessary. This tight timeline adds focus to negotiations that appear to be on track to conclude outstanding matters without disruption.
Significant progress has been achieved in line with the Union claim including commitment on the part of the CEDP to pay 2.5% annual salary increases consistent with the timing of payments for teachers and staff in schools across the diocese.
There was also a recommitment not to require attendance at professional development during school vacation periods. There have also been positive discussions about the inclusion of a range of systemic EA benefits into the agreement.
Further negotiations are scheduled for the coming weeks with the hope of resolving outstanding matters. The Union will assess progress and advise counsellors if a need arises to implement action.
A successful outcome would provide the first EA for Parramatta counsellors in the diocese who have been engaged in a four year quest to achieve such an agreement. This outcome would provide greater clarity, consistency and security around salaries and conditions for counsellors.