Last-gasp meeting may deliver new wage deal for ACT Catholic school teachers

Last-gasp meeting may deliver new wage deal for ACT Catholic school teachers

Teacher's union representatives are hopeful a last-gasp meeting with employers will deliver a new enterprise agreement for teachers in 36 Canberra and Goulburn Catholic schools before the beginning of term.

Negotiations aimed at bringing all NSW and ACT Catholic school teachers and support staff under the one agreement began in April, after the existing staff agreement ran out at the end of 2013.

Independent Education Union NSW/ACT general secretary John Quessy said he was hopeful the Friday afternoon meeting would resolve many of the issues that had plagued negotiations, namely the rate of pay.

"We've been at an impasse over a number of conditions but for our teachers in the ACT we still don't have a definite salary offer.

"That's not entirely surprising, given the government sector is unsettled at the moment and they're probably trying to hedge their bets."

The drawn-out negotiations involved strike action and stopwork meetings in the ACT and NSW throughout 2013, with teachers allegedly "frustrated" by the inability to sign a new agreement.


Catholic Commission for Employment Relations executive director Tony Farley said the delay in signing a new agreement was the result of "very complex" arrangements.

"We're creating a single agreement out of numerous agreements and it takes a long time to work through the many issues that have been placed on the table," he said.

Mr Quessy said he understood the complexity of the process but did not want to hold up an agreement for all of NSW "simply because the ACT is proving problematic".

"NSW and the ACT have always been on a separate agreement, but the Catholic system wants to bring them under the one agreement, and we don't have a philosophical opposition to this," he said.

The IEU co-ordinated stopwork meetings involving as many as 1000 teachers in the Canberra and Goulburn Diocese in July, August and November.

The union and Catholic school teachers were protesting against proposed changes to workloads, professional development provisions, and performance review arrangements.

In November, Mr Quessy said Catholic school employers had indicated a willingness to abandon controversial elements of the agreement although there was "still a fair way to go on many of the issues between the parties".

"The union has still not received a revised pay offer for teachers in the ACT part of the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn," he said.

The Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn's Catholic Education Office director, Moira Najdecki, said the organisation was trying to deliver "a new, contemporary agreement which presents a range of ideas about how schools can better support 21st-century teaching and learning".

The negotiations do not include independent Catholic schools in the ACT such as St Edmund's College, Marist College Canberra and Daramalan College, which operate on their own agreements.

Henry Belot

Henry Belot is a reporter at The Canberra Times.

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