Catholic teachers end 18 month battle with 'yes' vote

Catholic teachers and support staff in NSW and ACT will vote ‘yes’ to a new enterprise agreement this week, ending 18 months of bitter disputes which involved two stop work meetings around the state, including Tamworth.

This week the teachers and staff will finally vote ‘yes’ to a new enterprise agreement that “enshrines access to Fair Work Commission for arbitration”, and includes changes to work practice agreements which allow teachers and support staff to spend more time with students and less time on data collection, meetings, and even emails.

For the Independent Education Union, the right to arbitration was the loggerhead that forced the negotiations into a stalemate after the body representing the Catholic Dioceses demanded they forfeit that right.

“It’s a tribute to the determination and unity of our members that they stuck to their guns for 18 months, despite attempts by the employers to bribe them with a pay rise, because they knew how fundamental the right to arbitration was,” she said.

The agreement includes a 2.5 per cent pay rise for 2017, 2018 and 2019 in NSW, as well as allowing for more mentoring and release from face to face teaching for new teachers.

Meeting times are capped at 10 hours per term, and there is a commitment to limit unnecessary data processing and programming that is not directly related to teaching. Staff are also not required to respond to emails outside of normal school hours.

“This campaign proved ACTU Secretary Sally McManus right – the rules that govern industrial relations are broken and need to be changed,” Ms Taylor said.

“Nevertheless, despite many obstacles, the union has won through, and the end result will benefit school staff, students and parents.”