Catholic systemic principals near settlement

Gloria Taylor
Deputy Secretary

Following 12 months of negotiations, the outlook is promising for a new Multi Enterprise Agreement (MEA) for principals in NSW and ACT Catholic diocesan schools.

The proposed agreement covers all dioceses with the exception of Sydney. As members would be aware, the Archdiocese of Sydney negotiated an agreement for Sydney principals late in 2015 for 2016. While principal members in Sydney sought to be part of the wider agreement, the Archdiocese has set down dates to commence bargaining to continue a stand alone agreement.

The proposed NSW/ACT MEA proposes a two year timeframe commencing on 1 January 2017. It introduces a new classification structure providing equal pay for primary and secondary principals based on school enrolment bands.

Pay rises

The Union welcomes the pay rises for principals in primary schools while noting the proposed pay increases for secondary schools will generally ensure principals get at least a 2.5% pay rise in 2017 and 2018. The proposed scale has a Foundation and Accomplished rate at each enrolment band and all existing principals will be deemed as Accomplished.

This latest proposal from the Catholic Commission for Employment Relations (CCER) is an improvement on an earlier model that was largely disadvantageous to secondary principals.

However, there are principals in the current proposal that still would not receive a 2.5% pay rise. Principals in NSW secondary schools of between 301-450 students and principals of ACT secondary schools below 1500 would not receive any increase in 2017 and principals of ACT primary schools above 800 would receive just under 2.5%.

The IEU has sought as a minimum that every principal should receive a 2.5% increase in both 2017 and 2018 and the Union will continue to press for this outcome.

Performance reviews

The criterion proposed by the CCER (other than for existing principals) to access the Accomplished level is a satisfactory performance review at the end of three years at Foundation level. The Union has sought that some guidelines be inserted into the MEA concerning consultation with principals and the Union about performance review processes, the timing of the process and the definition of a ‘satisfactory’ performance review. Again the Union will continue to pursue this outcome.

The Union also continues to seek greater protection for principals than proposed by the CCER if enrolments drop. We have proposed salary maintenance at least until the end of the following school year.

Additional loading

The proposed MEA includes additional loading of up to 10% where an employer has difficulties in recruiting a principal to a school because of the remote location or the particular needs of the school – this includes boarding schools. The Union is seeking a high level of transparency around such arrangements. Where there is a view that a school should attract the additional loading, such an arrangement should be made known to all applicants for the position.

The IEU is aware that some principals currently have contractual arrangements providing salaries or conditions above the enrolment bands. The Union strongly encourages principals to discuss these arrangements with the Union prior to the establishment of the new MEA to confirm the rate of pay that will apply under the MEA, in light of the contractual arrangements.

Profession leader

Following the concerns raised by the Union on behalf of principal members about the proposed Profession Leader classification, the CCER has removed this structure from the current draft.

Other changes

The proposed agreement includes new clauses or updated language on a range of issues to ensure consistency with the Catholic systemic schools enterprise agreement. These include the new provisions for personal/carer’s leave.

The IEU has been regularly consulting with principals through the branch structure, meetings and teleconferences. If you wish to discuss any aspects of the proposed MEA, please feel free to contact IEU Principals’ Organiser Pam Smith: