Union says ‘yes’ for Christian school teachers agreement

The Union has now reached agreement with Christian Schools Australia (CSA) and Christian Education Network (CEN) about the terms of a new NSW Christian Schools Teaching Staff Multi-Enterprise Agreement (MEA).

In relation to the proposed General Staff Agreement, the Union made comments on the employer draft and the proposed rates of pay and classifications in August. We have not yet received from employers a revised draft agreement following this feedback.

Teaching staff MEA

The MEA will apply to nearly 50 Christian schools in NSW and will remain in place until the end of 2017. The MEA provides for pay increases of 2.25% from February 2016 and February 2017 (2% per annum only in each year for teachers in their first three years of teaching experience). With one narrow exception, there is no reduction in existing conditions.

What have we achieved in the Teachers MEA?

Maintenance of existing leave conditions

The schools agreed in mid 2015 to maintain the existing personal (sick) leave and carer’s leave. This leave is 15 days per annum in the first two years and 20 days per annum in the third and subsequent years. The Union had indicated we were prepared to negotiate personal leave arrangements but we felt the CSA proposal was too disadvantageous to be acceptable.

Employers also agreed to maintain the current long service leave for both current and new teachers. Long service leave is 1.3 weeks a year for the first 10 years and two weeks a year thereafter. Previously employers had proposed to reduce this entitlement for new teachers to one week a year for the first 10 years and 1.3 weeks a year thereafter.

Redundancy pay

Current redundancy pay entitlements above the legal minimum will be maintained under this MEA. Employers have withdrawn an earlier proposal that would have resulted in a reduction of between one and eight weeks redundancy pay for all teachers from the end of 2017.

Temporary appointments

Although there has been a minor redrafting of the temporary teacher provisions, the MEA still limits the circumstances in which a teacher may be employed on a temporary basis, in line with current practice. This is a big improvement on the earlier draft proposed by employers.

Lunch breaks

A teacher’s right to a lunch break has been maintained and, for example, teachers cannot be required to take their lunch as part of their Release from Face to Face Teaching (RFF), as previously proposed by employers. If a teacher wishes to change the current half hour minimum lunch break, they can agree in writing to instead take two 20 minutes breaks.

Hours of attendance

Employers had previously proposed changes to attendance times with a right for the school to require teachers to attend for up to 210 days per year. This proposed change has been withdrawn.

Paid parental leave

As members will be aware under the current MEA, when a teacher takes parental leave, schools ‘top up’ the government Paid Parental Leave Payment Scheme to 18 weeks of paid leave at the teacher’s ordinary rate of pay. Under the MEA, this entitlement is now called a New Parent Bonus and it will fall outside the Federal Government’s proposed bill stopping new parents accessing both their employer’s paid parental leave and the government scheme.

Support for teachers undergoing accreditation

New provisions require schools to provide support for teachers working towards achieving Proficient teacher accreditation for example by providing a mentor teacher, by giving the teacher the opportunity to observe other classes etc.

A problem area – early learning centres

The Union is opposed to the proposed reduction in long service leave for teachers working in preschools attached to schools. The new MEA resolves an ambiguity in the existing 2011-2012 MEA by reducing long service leave for this group, subject to the proviso that teachers who previously enjoyed the same more generous long service leave as other teachers will continue to do so.

The Union is also opposed to the removal of teachers employed in early learning centres operating 48 weeks per year from the proposed MEA. The previous 2011-2012 MEA will continue to apply but teachers will not be automatically entitled to the pay rises in the new MEA.

Contact your IEU Organiser for more details.