The Union has called on Catholic dioceses to issue representational rights notices and for the Catholic Commission for Employment Relations (CCER) to commence bargaining for a new systemic principals’ enterprise agreement (EA).
Instead the Catholic employers have advised the Union that bargaining will be delayed until at least October to enable the CCER to hold a second meeting with diocesan directors and invited principals. The CCER held an initial consultation on 4 August.
The IEU does not accept that such consultations should hold up already overdue bargaining and maintains that negotiations should commence irrespective of such meetings. There is growing disquiet among IEU principal members about moves to initiate separate agreements in two dioceses. The stalling of bargaining adds to frustrations over delays and uncertainty around the EA process.
Last year the Union had discussions with the CCER about an EA for principals, but the employers sought to delay bargaining because of the dispute about the EA for teachers and general employees. When settlement for the systemic EA was finally reached, the IEU formally requested the CCER commence bargaining for the principals’ EA.
A meeting was held on 28 July. At the meeting the CCER agreed to the IEU proposal to use the current principals’ EA as the basis for discussions and to schedule further meeting dates. The CCER advised the IEU that the Archdiocese of Sydney and the Diocese of Parramatta were considering a separate EA to other dioceses. The CCER committed to “shortly” confirm the approach of all dioceses. The CCER also indicated that it would be holding a meeting with Diocesan Directors and some principals on 4 August.
In a follow up letter to the Union on 3 August, the CCER confirmed their commitment to schedule meeting dates and advise the Union of diocesan intentions regarding EAs. They indicated that the meeting on 4 August would deal with school leadership issues as well as industrial relations matters.
The CCER now refuses to schedule meeting dates and has failed to provide further information about diocesan approaches. Instead they have stalled bargaining and scheduled another CCER consultation for October.
The Union is concerned that the tactics around bargaining for the principals’ EA are reflective of elements of the systemic dispute that erupted in April last year.
Unprecedented and unacceptable delays have been a feature of Catholic bargaining throughout this round of negotiations, in the systemic EA as well as in the current long overdue settlement of Catholic independent agreements.
The Union will continue to press for the urgent commencement of bargaining. We will use whatever methods are available including exploring options under the Fair Work Act to achieve a sensible approach and a timely outcome to discussions.
The Union has asked its systemic principal members to email their diocesan directors to request the immediate commencement of bargaining. The IEU thanks principals for their support and will keep them advised of progress.