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South Coast Catholic Schools to stop work tomorrow

St Bernards

Almost 20,000 teachers and support staff from 540 Catholic diocesan schools across NSW and the ACT are preparing to strike for 24-hours over pay and conditions.

It will be the first full day strike by Catholic school teachers in 18 years.

The Independent Education Union (IEU) said its members will stop work on Friday (May 27) to march at 10 rallies which will be held across NSW and the ACT.

While there are no local rallies on the South Coast, march locations include:
- Sydney
- Canberra
- Newcastle
- Wollongong
- Lennox Head
- Wagga Wagga
- Bathurst
- Dubbo
- Port Macquarie
- Tamworth

Secretary of the NSW/ACT Independent Education Union, Mark Northem, said Catholic Teachers and support staff deserve better.

"We're anticipating a strong response from teachers and support staff across the state and the ACT in pursuit of pay paridy with their state school collagues for our support staff who are about three years behind,"

"For teachers it's about having more time to do your job, and fairer pay,"

"It's time for better conditions and importantly time to end the crippling teacher shortages,"

"And in more regional and remote areas, the further you are outside of Sydney, these shortages are exacerbated."

There are a number of catholic-systemic schools on the South Coast that have the right to take protected industrial action.

-Carroll College in Broulee
-Lumen Christi Catholic College in Pambula Beach
-St Bernard’s Primary School in Batehaven
-St Jospeh's Primary School in Bomabala
-St Mary's Primarys School in Moruya
-St Pat's Primary School in Bega

"The vote to take industrial action whilst not taken lightly, was overwhelmingly endorsed,"

Local schools will put out correspondence to parents to best manage the distruption in learning.

"We want parents to stand with their teachers and support staff and say this is not good enough,"

"We need a reliable teacher supply, we want teachers in front of our students and schools working well, so catholic educators and the NSW Government need to get in and fix it."

Diocesan Catholic schools educate one in five students in NSW & the ACT and employ more than 20,000 teaching and support staff across 548 schools.

Operational responsibility for those schools, including the employment of staff, lies with 11 Diocesan Education Offices.

The Directors of those offices meet regularly to discuss issues related to their Dioceses.

Director Catholic Education Canberra/Goulburn, Ross Fox, said they support employees’ right to take protected industrial action.

"We fully support their right to do so in pursuit of a new enterprise agreement but we are concerned about further potential disruption to students and the school community, particularly given the experience of the last two years," Mr Fox said.

"We have made significant progress in discussions to negotiate a new Enterprise Agreement for teaching and support staff, and believe that we can continue to do so without the added pressure of industrial action at this time," he said.

"We continue to urge the IEU to keep working collaboratively with us to reach a fair and just outcome for employees."

Catholic Education Canberra/Goulburn say they have made clear their commitment to work collaboratively with the union to deliver improved pay and conditions.

"As a measure of our support for all teachers, we have provided two additional planning days this term," Mr Fox said.

"We are working through the implications in an attempt to minimise any disruption to students and families,"he said.

"We will of course continue to negotiate in good faith so that we can deliver an outcome that is fair and recognises the hard work and commitment of all staff."

In late November 2021, prior to the current EA expiring in December, the Independent Education Union (IEU) sent the Diocesan Directors an initial log of claims.

The IEU issued a more detailed log of claims on 15 February.

To support staff while the EA is being negotiated, the Diocesan Directors awarded all NSW based employees and ACT General Employees a discretionary 2.04% pay increase backdated to 1 January 2022 ahead of the new EA being

Under the current EA, ACT Teachers will receive a 1.5% pay increase in July 2022.

The Directors responded to the IEU claims on 6 April and, in fortnightly bargaining meetings since then, have made new commitments to address a range of the IEU claims and explained why they say the balance are not achievable.

The claims made by the IEU include:
• Pay rises of between 10% to 15% for teachers
• A reduction in face-to-face teaching by two hours (pro rata) per week
• A further reduction in staff workload by streamlining compliance activities, improving management of data and considering the workload on teachers when a new project is proposed
• A substantial increase in support staff pay rates to at least match the Department of Education rates
• Enhancement of parental leave including 12 weeks paid parental leave for the non-primary carer
• Measures to address teacher shortages and increase permanent positions for teachers

In mid-May, the IEU ran a Protected Action Ballot which supported a full day strike being held on Friday 27 May.

The Diocesan Directors acknowledge, and have expressed deep appreciation for, the remarkable service and commitment of all staff throughout the challenges of the last two pandemic-impacted years.

The Dioceses have now responded to all IEU claims and agreed to:
• at least match the pay increases awarded to public school teachers as well as the effective date
• address any inequity in pay rates for support staff when compared to the State system
• provide teachers an additional pupil free day in 2022 to enable collaborative planning and professional development
• match any extra relief from face-to-face teaching provided to public school teachers, on the basis that it be principal-directed to align with school needs and system priorities, and to enhance the teacher and student experience
• recognition of prior service for support staff with relevant service at another Diocese, and
• improve parental leave for all staff including providing leave for non-primary carers to become primary carers

Where possible, these new measures will be implemented as a priority, ahead of the EA being finalised.

Some will be addressed in separate Work Practice Agreements (WPAs) on a Diocese by Diocese basis to suit local needs.

The Dioceses believe any industrial action now will only serve to exacerbate the challenges which students, teaching and general staff, parents and the broader community have been enduring for the past two years.

Image Credit: Google Maps

Tags: Catholic School Strike South Coast, Catholic School strike Eurobodalla, Bega Valley atholic School Strike