Catholic education body, union strike deal

The new agreement between the Independent Education Union (IEU) and the Catholic Commission for Employment Relations (CCER) on a new enterprise agreement (EA) includes pay rises, limits on class sizes and the retention of a 30-minute uninterrupted lunch break.

“The CCER and the IEU are pleased to announce that we have today reached agreement on the terms of a new enterprise agreement to cover teachers and general staff in schools operated by the 11 Catholic Dioceses in NSW and the ACT,” read the joint statement.

According to the preliminary details, NSW Catholic employees won a pay increase of 2.27% backdated to the beginning of January 2014, while ACT Catholic employees will be given a 1.5% pay increase from January 2016.

IEU assistant secretary, Mark Northam, told The Educator that the IEU and CCER now saw eye-to-eye on what had been one of the negotiation’s biggest sticking points – disagreement over the wording of a controversial Catholic ethos clause.

“One particular clause was in regards to interactions with students. Placing that ethos within a school context and being entirely respectful of that ethos was one of the areas clarified,” Northam said.

“There is now greater understanding of mutual expectations.”

Northam attributed the success of the negotiations to the involvement and persistence of the IEU’s members to arrive at a positive outcome.

“It’s a testimony to the sheer tenacity of our members over a 14 month period. They glued themselves to the debate and wanted to be part of the ongoing negotiations seeking an agreement,” Northam said.

“The draft is now in its final stages and only a few minor areas remaining. Subsequent to that there will be a voting process and we will be recommending a ‘yes’ vote to our members.

“There was a lot of doom and gloom at the outset about the circumstances in which the dispute emerged, but I think what this means is that you can engage in a campaign and you can arrive at a mutual understanding,” Northam said.

The IEU said it will recommend a vote early next term to allow time for its members to review the EA. The voting will occur electronically with some capacity for phone voting.

Further detailed information will be available on the IEU website