Teachers vote in favour of a fresh start

An overwhelming majority of the Independent Education Union’s (IEU) members have voted ‘Yes’ to the new terms of a new Enterprise Agreement (EA).

In a statement released yesterday, the IEU said factors such as the high levels of casuals may have influenced the outcome. Of the 7,671 ballots counted, only 252 employees voted "No".

IEU acting general secretary, Gloria Taylor, told The Educator what this will mean for teachers working in systemic schools in NSW and the ACT.

“Basically it’s a fresh start with a standards model, which is the direction that education has taken that is reflected now in this new agreement,” Taylor told The Educator.

“The agreement retains what is important to teachers including relief from face-to-face teaching, moderation of class sizes and better annual leave arrangements.”

Taylor said the resounding ‘Yes’ vote means that Catholic staff will be treated much more professionally and encouraged the union’s members to begin discussing any outstanding matters as the next enterprise agreement is not far away.

“We have matters we’re looking into like teacher performance and development and getting consistent clauses around that, and issues related to VET teaching.”

As for the 252 members who voted ‘No’, Taylor acknowledged concerns they had with regards to how personal leave and sick leave would now be accrued.

“There were changes to personal carers leave, some for the better, but there was a reduction. They’ve had 25 days per annum but it was limited to accrual of only 150 days and it only covered the last few years,” Taylor said.

“They now have unlimited accrual of their sick leave which will be better for all in the long run and better for most now, but it does take longer to reach.”

Taylor added staff will also have more flexibility in terms of requiring medical evidence, which she said used to be “quite strict”.

“Employees will have full access to use their sick leave to be used as carers leave if required, and that’s a big issue for people with young children or ageing parents.

“However, that obviously alarms people who have something chronic that might mean they use all of their sick leave and expect to keep using it every year. They’re worried about the loss of those 25 days.”

Another contentious issue in the lead-up to the agreement was a Catholic ethos clause which some worried would leave their personal lives open to scrutiny. This was particularly of concern to employees who identified as being Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT).

“The main objections concerned the Catholic ethos clause, which we think is the best clause we’ve had in that it doesn’t intrude into public and personal lifestyle.

Taylor said that overall the union’s members were happy with the outcome of the agreement and were breathing a big sigh of relief that the 18 month ordeal was finally over.

“Overwhelmingly what we had were people who said this whole package was worth the wait. We know it’s a time of fairly flat wages, so this deal works very well,” Taylor said.

“It’s a fair outcome for everyone.”
The IEU Council meeting on 15 August will consider the ballot results.