Catholic independents to vote

After a year of waiting, the Union anticipates that employees in NSW Catholic independent schools will vote on new multi enterprise agreements in the coming weeks.

As at the time of writing, the Union is close to final agreement on both a new teachers’ Multi Enterprise Agreement (MEA) and a support and operational staff MEA. One school, Santa Sabina College, will be covered by its own separate enterprise agreements (EAs) based on the MEAs but not containing an ethos clause.

More than 30 schools will be covered by the new agreements (but not all of these schools are party to agreements for both teachers and support staff).

The Union has been extremely concerned about the delay that has held up pay rises that were due for most employees from the beginning of 2015. Although the increases will be back paid eventually the Union is concerned that employees who leave the workplace in the meantime may miss out. We are urging the schools to pay the pay rises without further delay.

Teachers’ MEA

The teachers’ MEA combines the existing six separate enterprise agreements applying to groups of schools into one MEA and the Santa Sabina EA. The MEA will continue the pattern of different pay scales with some based on an incremental pay scale and others reflecting the AIS standards (or 3 Band) model. Five schools will transition from the incremental model to the standards model in the course of the MEA. All the pay rates will be above Catholic systemic and government school pay rates, but for some schools only marginally above. The agreements will be in force for 2015 and 2016 only.

Existing conditions will be retained, but in some cases the language has been updated. For example there will be no change to the quantum of sick leave, but it is now called personal/carer’s leave and leave is available because of an unexpected personal emergency rather than for ‘pressing domestic necessity’, being any reason at the discretion of the employer. The amount of paid parental leave has also not changed but the clause now refers to leave for the primary caregiver and the parent who is not the primary caregiver, rather than maternity, paternity and adoption leave.

The Union is hopeful that the vote of employees on the MEA which will be conducted by schools will occur in late October /early November and is seeking that the pay rises be paid as soon as possible.

Support and operational staff MEA

The last round of agreements saw non teaching staff in Catholic independent schools grouped together under two different support and operational staff Enterprise Agreements (EAs). The EA covering Christian Brothers /Edmund Rice Education Australia (EREA) schools was the first Catholic independent school EA to have broad coverage of most classifications. Subsequently an EA was made in respect of the other Catholic independent schools that further expanded the coverage to include nursing staff, boarding house staff and other general operational employees.

The new MEA will cover all those classifications covered presently by the broader Catholic Independent Schools EA (and extends that coverage to both EREA schools and Monte Sant’ Angelo). As will occur for the teachers, there will also be a separate EA for support staff employed by Santa Sabina College, based on the MEA.

Agreement has been reached on the inclusion of new express provisions applying to Information Technology (IT) staff. We are close to finalising a new five step classification structure for IT assistants through to IT managers/directors with high levels of autonomy and responsibility. Appointment to the three highest IT classifications will be dependent upon the size of the school and/or the school’s decision to establish a position paying salaries comparable to teachers in order to avoid penalties for shiftwork, overtime and being on call.

The MEA will provide a 2.5% increase for 2015 and a further increase of 2.5% in 2016. Those increases are to be applied to existing agreement rates (as adjusted with interim increases) meaning that there will be separate pay scales for EREA schools and Monte Sant’ Angelo.

As with the teachers’ MEA, existing conditions have been retained but the language has been updated.

The Union expects that the vote on the MEA will occur in late October/early November and, as with the teachers’ MEA, is seeking that the pay rises be paid as soon as possible.

Carol Matthews
Assistant Secretary