ACT News

Catholic schools in ACT and NSW to strike in August

Teachers at 37 schools across the ACT and south east NSW have voted to strike on August 25 and 26 over wages and conditions after negotiations broke down in July. 

New enterprise bargaining aimed at bringing all teachers and support staff under the one agreement began in April after the Catholic school staff agreement ran out at the end of last year.

Since then negotiations between the union and the Catholic Commission for Employment Relations (CCER), who employ teachers, have not gone smoothly.

The union arranged for teachers to vote for protected action in August and results confirmed over half of teachers at 37 schools voted in favour of a strike.

The union is demanding a 5 percent pay rise for teachers, while Tony Farley, Executive Director at the CCER said the commission will pass on increases in line with rates of pay at ACT public schools. 

The Independent Education Union (IEU) general secretary John Quessy described a meeting on Tuesday with Catholic school employers as a "waste of time" and said the employers had not put forward anything reasonable.


Mr Farley hit back, saying the IEU had jumped the gun since the proposed offer was not final.

Over half of secondary school teachers at St Mary MacKillop College, St Francis Xavier College, St Clare's College and Merici College voted to strike on Wednesday.

The strike will also include teachers at St Matthew's Primary School at Page, St Francis of Assisi Primary School at Calwell, St Jude's Primary School, St Thomas the Apostle at Kambah, St Thomas Aquinas Primary School at Charnwood, St Clare of Assisi Primary School at Conder, Holy Trinity Primary School, St Anthony's Parish School at Wanniassa and St Gregory's Infants in Queanbeyan NSW, according to the IEU.

IEU Canberra organiser Lyn Caton said Canberra Catholic school teachers will strike on Tuesday August 26 and march in front of the Catholic Education Office.

She said South Coast and South Eastern Catholic school teachers will strike and hold meetings off site at local clubs and cafes on Monday August 25.

Mr Quessy has accused the CCER of not providing a serious offer on salaries, and of not proposing how coordinators and middle-management in schools will be properly reenumerated.

He said the union also took issue with the clause in the proposed employment agreement which dealt with maximum workloads, saying the current proposal would allow individual schools to "opt-out".

Mr Farley said the previous agreement was outdated and did not allow for innovation in the workforce.

He said he was confident a new comprehensive proposal the CCER would put to the union on October 1 would settle "all outstanding issues" and conclude negotiations.

The action follows IEU members in Sydney launching industrial action and stop-work meetings in early July.

Teachers at Daramalan College, Marist College Canberra and St Edmund's College will not be involved in the strike action.