Catholic teachers vote ‘yes’ to a new enterprise agreement to end acrimonious dispute

Teachers and support staff at Dubbo's Catholic schools will vote ‘yes’ to a new enterprise agreement this week, following an 18-month industrial campaign.

The new agreement includes a 2.5 percent pay rise for 2017, 2018 and 2019 in NSW with an additional pay rise to come in line with public schools.

The ‘yes’ vote will bring to an end a sometimes acrimonious dispute between the Independent Education Union of Australia (IEUA NSW/ACT) Branch and the 11 Catholic Dioceses of NSW and the ACT. 

Acting Secretary IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Gloria Taylor said the new enterprise agreement also enshrines access to the Fair Work Commission for arbitration.

"The employer did challenge our member's access to arbitration," she said. "The new work practice agreement will allow teachers and support staff to spend more time with students and less time on data collection and input, meetings and emails."  

IEUA  Central West Organiser Jackie Groom said St Pius, St John's, St Laurence's and St Mary's were on board with the union's argument. 

"I categorically would say that those schools were overwhelmingly supportive of the union's campaign," she said. 

“In most dioceses, there is now a commitment to limit unnecessary data processing and programming that is not directly related to teaching. Staff will not be required to respond to emails outside of normal school hours. The new work practices agreements also allow for more mentoring for new teachers and support staff will be paid an allowance for attending overnight camps.”

Ms Groom said reaching an agreement was due to the determination and unity of union members.

"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.  

“They also understood that provisions addressing work intensification would benefit not only them but their students."

Catholic Commission for Employment Relations (CCER) Executive Director Tony Farley said he was pleased to have finalised negotiations with the IEUA.

"The main change to the proposed Dispute Resolution Procedure is that it allows for either employers or employees to refer disputes to the Fair Work Commission for arbitration without the consent of the other party, " he said.