Union wins $60,000 in back pay for finance officers

In the July issue of Newsmonth we reported that Maitland-Newcastle Diocese Finance Officer Betty Harris, with the support of her chapter, had won a pay rise after a long battle.

We are happy to announce that her reclassification has now been applied to 12 other finance officers in the diocese, with back pay for all from September last year. That amounts to $60,000 gained for members by IEU action.

The story began in April 2015 when Betty, employed in a Catholic systemic high school as a Level 5 school finance officer, requested reclassification to Level 6.

Despite addressing the criteria set out in the enterprise agreement (EA) and having a letter of support from her principal, the CSO denied the request, arguing that a number of years ago award changes determined that a school finance officer would be classified at Level 5 irrespective of school size. Betty wrote to the CSO director requesting a review of the decision. The request for reclassification was denied.

She contacted the IEU for assistance in June 2015. The Union challenged the CSO position. Again, the CSO rejected the application.

The new Catholic systemic EA, which came into effect in September 2015, brought a change to the framework within which Betty’s issue could be addressed.

The IEU had specifically sought provisions in the EA settlement so that where an employee meets the classification criteria for Levels 5 and 6, and was employed at a school other than a primary school of less than 400 students (in a regional diocese), then that employee must be classified as Level 6.

The Union wrote to the CSO on the back of strong support and a motion from the chapter regarding the new EA provisions, and to request the reclassification from Level 5 to 6 for all school finance officers employed in the 11 high schools in the diocese.

The CSO confirmed it had done so this June. The Union then sought back pay for the 12 members affected by the reclassification and the CSO agreed that back pay would apply from the commencement of the current EA, that is, 15 September.

Jim Hall