Catholic school teachers stop work

Monday, 14 November, 2022

Catholic school teachers stop work

Legally protected industrial action will be taken by hundreds of Catholic schools across NSW and the ACT.

Staff will stop work for one hour — from 8.30 to 9.30 am — on Tuesday, 15 November, while numerous others will stop for one hour at different times.

“Negotiations for a new enterprise agreement began in early February,” said Carol Matthews, Independent Education Union of Australia NSW/ACT Branch Acting Secretary.

“It is now November and employers are no closer to resolving pay issues.”

The IEUA NSW/ACT Branch said it has written to Catholic employers, most recently on 25 October, to express members’ frustration about the slow progress of negotiations. The employers have not responded.

The NSW Industrial Relations Commission handed down a decision to grant teachers in NSW Government schools pay rises of just 2.29% in 2022 and 2.53% in 2023. According to the IEUA, Catholic employers have “sat on their hands” awaiting this decision, and “while they are not legally bound by it, they have long imposed the NSW Government’s wages policy on Catholic school teachers.”

“The IEU condemns these derisory increases — they are not enough for IEU members nor for members of the NSW Teachers Federation,” Matthews said.

“Teachers’ salaries have been falling relative to other professions for more than a decade now and this year’s intensifying cost-of-living pressures only make matters worse. Salaries for support staff in Catholic schools are below those in government schools, yet Catholic employers are still dragging the chain on pay parity.”

The union said that teachers and support staff have been pushed to breaking point not only by uncompetitive salaries, but also by unmanageable workloads and the lingering pandemic.

It is calling for practical action to reduce the unnecessary administrative burden on teachers to allow sufficient time for proper lesson planning.

“Our members are tired and frustrated with their employers’ failure to respect them by negotiating in a fair and timely manner — they won’t even discuss simple, sector-wide measures we know could mitigate workload pressure,” Matthews said.

“Teachers care deeply about their students and understand the inconvenience [this] brief stopwork will cause. They are left with no option but to take action in an attempt to bring their employers to the negotiating table.

“Staff shortages are already severe, and with COVID rearing its ugly head again, a response from employers is more urgent than ever.”

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