Catholic independent schools: Progress for new agreements

Liam Griffiths
Assistant Secretary

Since the last edition of Newsmonth the Union has continued to make slow but steady progress in negotiations with Catholic employers for new Multi Enterprise Agreements (MEAs) applying to teachers and support and operational staff working in some 35 Catholic independent schools.

The current agreements will expire at the end of this year. Agreements for teachers will fall into one of three categories depending on the particular salary model and outcome being proposed. Schools which follow the AIS Standards Model (Band 3) will receive the same percentage salary increases as those increases recently agreed with the Association of Independent Schools (AIS) for a four year agreement: 2.3% in 2017; 2.5% in 2018; 2.5% in 2019 and 2.5% in 2020. Although such increases are modest, the Union considers them to be fair and reasonable in the current low inflation economic environment.

A second model will apply to around 10 schools, which have traditionally closely aligned to salary outcomes in Catholic systemic schools. Employers have offered increases of 2.5% per annum for a three year agreement consistent with anticipated outcomes in the government sector.

The Union has sought the inclusion of some basic work practices regulation around class sizes, teaching loads and release time to be included in these systemic model agreements.

The third model will apply to schools which have traditionally been aligned somewhere between the two former groups, many of which (such as the EREA schools, St Gregory’s College Campbelltown, Chevalier College, Rosebank and St Mary Star of the Sea Wollongong) have retained an ST1 classification level for many years.

In this group the employers seek to implement a modified standards model/scale which recognises levels of teacher accreditation. The Union is focused on ensuring that transitional arrangements to new salary scales manage the phase out of ST1 classification with no disadvantage to teachers currently holding ST1 level while also delivering a more favourable outcome for teachers who would have accessed it in coming years.

The proposed scale will have a Graduate teacher rate with five levels of Proficient teacher and include a top rate for Highly Accomplished teacher for the first time in these schools. The Union is close to an agreement on salaries pending a further response on some specific salary issues raised with the employers. At the time of writing, the Union is yet to receive any salary proposal for St Augustine’s College, Brookvale.

Personal/Carer’s Leave

The Union had anticipated that the Catholic employers would seek to include the same changes to sick and personal/ carer’s leave which have been introduced as a package of measures in both Catholic systemic and many AIS independent schools in recent times. However, in this round employers have not sought to change existing arrangements for teachers covered by this group of MEAs. This means that the current entitlements of 25 days per annum for full time teachers with capped accumulation of untaken leave, will remain in place. The Union has sought some further improvements around evidence of illness requirements.

Other improvements

The Union continues to pursue clauses to enhance certainty for teachers on significant matters such as support for graduate teachers in gaining accreditation at Proficient status, more certainty on the timing and expectations of professional development requirements, further clarity on teacher performance and development models and structures and general expectations in regards to email and communications protocols within schools. There is small but steady progress on such matters.

Support and operational staff

As reported last time the Union has made a range of claims for salary improvements in a number of support staff categories in addition to general increases. Negotiations have recently commenced with employers who have indicated a willingness to offer increases generally consistent with outcomes reached in the independent sector generally. Employers intend to offer MEAs, which are structured in their salaries quantum and their term of operation consistent with the relevant teacher MEA applying at that particular school. An update on the progress of these negotiations will be provided in December.

If you would like an IEU organiser to visit your school to discuss the progress of your MEA contact the Union office on 8202 8900 or toll free on 1800 467 943.