HUNTER Catholic teachers and support staff will stop work for four hours next week, vowing to fight for their right to arbitration even if it means missing out on backpay of up to $2250before Christmas.
NSW and ACT Independent Education Union branch assistant secretary Mark Northam saidmembersfrom 51 of the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle’s 57 schools were expected toparticipate in the protected industrial action. “In a sense this has become a history-making dispute,” Mr Northam said.”No Catholic employer has ever put to votea non union endorsed agreement. This situation is due to their failure to get around a table and negotiate an outcome.”
Mr Northam said membersfrom most schools would stop work for four hours from the commencement of duties on Monday. They will attend meetings at Mayfield Bowling Club and Aberdeen Bowling Club. Membersfrom St Pius X Adamstown, St Peter’s Maitland, St Therese’s New Lambton, St Joseph’s Merriwa andSt Paul’s Gateshead will stop work on Tuesday. Membersfrom Holy NameForster will stop work on Wednesday.
Director of Schools Michael Slattery said he was “disappointed” about the action,but assured parents all children at affected schools will be supervised.
As previously reported, the IEU andCatholic Commission for Employment Relations (CCER) started negotiating late last year over a new three year enterprise agreement to start in 2017.
The IEU wanted a clause that allowed staff to seek arbitration in the Fair Work Commission over disputes.
The CCER has said there is no need to include arbitration in the agreement. It said the current process in place for the past seven years has resolved every dispute andis consistent with the Fair Work Act.”Iffor some reason it does stop working throughout the life of the new enterprise agreement, the CSO will be happy to work with the union to find ways to improve it,” Mr Slattery said. He encouraged staff to vote yes on the proposed agreement in its current formon December 5 and leavethe IEU and CCER to continue negotiations on the arbitration clause in 2018. “This way staff at Catholic schools can receive the financial benefit of the negotiated 2.5 per centincrease in remuneration and their back pay as soon as possible. The 11 dioceses have decided that we will not wait until the Fair Work Commission formally approves the enterprise agreement before we process pay increases, as this could take an extended period of time.”
Mr Northam saidmembers were “incited by what’s been offered to them and [the idea] that you can resolve a dispute by putting money into people’s hands or pockets”.