The challenges of agreement making

Catholic agreements

The Catholic independent Multi Enterprise Agreements (MEAs) for teachers and support and operational staff are near finalisation and the IEU is strongly pressing for a one year agreement for Catholic systemic principals.

The Union is seeking a pay increase for principals from 1 January 2016 and also wants to ensure that leave conditions and other relevant changes from the recently approved NSW and ACT Catholic Systemic Schools Enterprise Agreement 2015 are in place for the start of the next school year. If the agreement is held over, principals would be denied some important benefits.

The IEU believes that a number of outstanding matters including casual rates for principals, renewal leave, the provision of ‘tools of trade’ and allowances for managing boarding house schools could possibly be resolved for inclusion in the one year agreement. The Union is prepared to meet early in 2016 to begin discussions around the more complex matters that have been raised by the parties including a possible new classification structure for principals.


The Catholic Commission for Employment Relations (CCER) is proposing an MEA that will bring three existing agreements for principals into one. The CCER also used this approach to merge Catholic systemic agreements and Catholic independent school agreements. While the Union will work with this approach, we have told employers that we hope that we are not confronted with the type of laborious exercise that led to unreasonably protracted negotiations in the other agreements.

The Union is also working towards a first agreement for counsellors in the Parramatta Diocese as well as an agreement for Catholic Education Office personnel in Parramatta and a number of other dioceses.

Christian schools

The Union has been involved in extensive discussions with Christian Schools Australia (CSA) on a proposed Teaching Staff Multi-Enterprise Agreement that would be in effect until the end of 2017.

Although many of the IEU concerns have been addressed such as proposed reductions in sick leave, long service leave and redundancy payments, there are still outstanding issues. These include a proposed increase in the notice of termination to be expected of teachers, the lunch break provisions and highly intrusive ethos provisions. In addition, lower rates of pay have been proposed for teachers in early learning centres other than preschools.

The Union has not yet received a revised general staff agreement. The IEU will continue to consult with members over these issues.

AIS schools

The Union will seek discussions early in 2016 to ensure the successful making of new MEAs for teachers for the commencement of 2017. An initial meeting has already been held with the AIS over the support and operational staff agreement as there were outstanding issues arising from the current MEA.

The Union believes it is unlikely that employers will again offer the controversial one off payments (OOPs) in lieu of salary increases in this next round. In any case the IEU would strongly resist this approach. There may also be a need to review the teachers’ incremental MEA as well as the teachers standards model agreement in light of new pay structures in the government and Catholic systemic sectors. It may be also timely to consider the broader accreditation agenda and its possible relevance to the MEAs.

Gloria Taylor
Deputy Secretary