Catholic Education directors across NSW and the ACT have expressed support for teachers receiving meaningful pay increases but expressed disappointment at the decision to call a full day stop work.
Ross Fox, speaking on behalf of Catholic Education employers, said teaching and general staff in Catholic schools had done a remarkable job managing the challenges COVID has presented over the last two years.
“Our teachers deserve recognition, not just for the commitment they have shown during this period but for the important work they do every day educating our students. It is the sole focus of our school system,” Mr Fox said.
“We fully respect the right of our staff to take industrial action but the decision to call a full-day strike is regrettable given the further disruption it creates for our students, parents and broader community. Our schools will do their best to minimise the impact caused,” he said.
Mr Fox said good progress had been made in negotiations with the Independent Education Union (IEU) on a new Enterprise Agreement (EA) for teachers and general staff and Catholic Education had responded to all claims made.
“As a measure of our commitment to our staff, we have already provided a 2.04% pay increase backdated to January this year outside of the expired EA while we continue negotiations with the union on the new agreement.
“We have also agreed to at least match any further pay rise provided by the NSW government to public sector teachers along with a range of other measures to address teacher workload concerns,” Mr Fox said.
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
• work closely with the IEU on strategies to provide for effective and efficient means of addressing teacher workload concerns tailored to meet the unique circumstances of schools in each Diocese
• 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
Mr Fox said the strike action would not change Catholic Education’s commitment to continue bargaining in good faith with its staff and the IEU to deliver the best pay outcome possible within the constraints every school faces.
“We are in a very competitive market to attract and retain high quality teachers and always want to be the employer of choice but we rely on government funding and the fees we ask parents to pay to keep our schools operating,” Mr Fox said.
“The reality is any costs outside of government funding have to be met by our parents so the challenge always is providing our staff the best pay and conditions we can while keeping our education affordable for the families we seek to serve, he said.
Catholic Education has urged the IEU to continue collaborative discussions to finalise a new EA as soon as possible and is hopeful to avoid any further industrial action that causes disruption to students, parents and the community.