Teachers and support staff in Archdiocese of Sydney Catholic systemic schools will stop work for the morning of Wednesday, 1 November to fight for their right to arbitration.
‘Rallies for rights’ are planned, with teachers planning to take to the streets to highlight their cause. The Sydney action represents part of rolling stop works in schools across NSW and the ACT, continuing to 8 November in the first instance.
Independent Education Union (IEU) communications indicate that the strike is “a last resort as Catholic employers have failed to respond to the Independent Education Union’s attempt to negotiate for almost a year”.
The enterprise agreement covering Catholic schools expired in December 2016, and members have yet to receive the agreed pay rise of 2.5%. The IEU says teachers continue to fight for their rights to arbitration.
IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Secretary John Quessy said the right of the union to take disputes to arbitration by an independent umpire was a basic worker’s right being denied by employers.
This right is available to Catholic school staff in other states, and staff in Catholic run hospitals and aged care facilities in NSW and the ACT. “We’re not sure why they are singling out Catholic schools in NSW and the ACT,” Quessy said.
Ahead of the action on Tuesday, he said, “without the right to arbitration, enterprise agreements are compromised”.
“While we are loathe to take any action which disturbs students’ education, it’s crucial that employers cannot stop the Union seeking a hearing at the Fair Work Commission.
“It’s rather ironic that we are having a long-running dispute to fight for the right to resolve disputes quickly and fairly,” he said, also on Tuesday this week.
The stop work will begin at the start of duties and finish at 12.30pm. Only members covered by Protected Action Orders will participate in the action. Quessy, Unions NSW Secretary Mark Morey and a number of Sydney primary and secondary teachers as well as support staff will address the rally.
Check back for updates later in the day.