Supporting the independent education community

News release: Employers put up roadblocks

Catholic school teachers and support staff across NSW and the ACT are fighting for their right to take industrial action after the employer created a series of legal roadblocks to the Union's quest to be granted permission to strike by the Fair Work Commission.

Members of the Independent Education Union (IEU) want to take industrial action because the Catholic Commission for Employment Relations (CCER) is opposing the Union’s right to arbitration through the Fair Work Commission.

IEU Secretary John Quessy said its members should have the right to have grievances heard by the industrial umpire.

“The Catholic dioceses' position is strange considering thousands of staff employed in hospitals and aged care facilities run by Catholic employers all over NSW and the ACT have the right to arbitration through the Fair Work Commission. Yet teachers and support staff in Catholic schools are being denied this right,” Quessy said.

For example, Catholic Healthcare Residential Aged Care facilities and Calvary Residential Aged Care staff have access to the industrial umpire. In Sydney more than 20 aged facilities are covered by the Catholic Healthcare Residential Aged Care Enterprise Agreement, with more than 30 covered in regional NSW. These enterprise agreements include the right to arbitration.

Workers at Aquinas Court aged care facility in the Blue Mountains would have access to the industrial umpire, but St Thomas Aquinas Primary School Springwood staff would not.

The same contrast applies to St Catherine’s aged care facility in Bathurst compared to The Assumption School Bathurst; St John’s Villa aged care New Lambton compared to St Therese’s Primary School New Lambton; Calvary Haydon Retirement Community Canberra and St Mary MacKillop College Canberra; and Riverina Hospital Wagga Wagga and Holy Trinity Primary School Wagga Wagga.

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In Sydney Brigidine House Randwick aged care facility has the right to arbitration but not Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Primary School Randwick; St Bede’s Home in South Hurstville has it but St Mary’s Star of the Sea Primary School Hurstville does not.

“There are hundreds of examples of this selective arbitration process all over NSW and the ACT,” Quessy said.

“Why would Catholic employers want to afford their staff in the health care sector greater rights than their teachers and support staff in schools?”

The IEU is hoping for a final decision from the Fair Work Commission regarding its right to take industrial action soon. Once that is determined, dates for stop works will be publicised.

More information: www.ieu.asn.au or https://www.facebook.com/ieunswact/

Read the full news release here