Supporting the independent education community

3rd DEC 2014

Recently, the Union reported on the successful last minute resolution to the dispute over the Assocation of Independent Schools (AIS) Multi-Enterprise Agreements (MEAs) in independent schools across NSW.

This resulted in improved outcomes for members leading to 'yes' votes in the large majority of schools.

While the IEU welcomes this outcome, we wish to alert members to some difficulties that have arisen during the course of the MEA process.

Employer drafting errors

It has become clear to the Union that there are a number of issues about the
content of the MEAs that do not reflect the understandings between the Union and the AIS.

A key issue is the payment date in 2016 where the Teachers MEAs contained an error not consistent with the Joint Statement between the IEU and the AIS.

The AIS has undertaken on behalf of the school employers that all schools will pay the increases as agreed from the first full pay period on or after 1 February 2016, not 15 March 2016 as indicated in the MEA.

A second concern is the change to concurrent parental leave (traditionally known as paternity leave). This has been changed from two weeks paid leave (to be deducted from carers' leave) to unpaid leave where the employer tops up the government payment under the Paid Parental Leave (PPL) Act.

This change was not discussed with the Union and at no time was it in drafts sent to the Union (nor was it pointed out to employees who were assured that all existing leave arrangements would remain the same).

The AIS has now agreed on behalf of schools that the leave would be revert to two weeks paid leave (such leave not to be deducted from carers' leave). The Union is confident that these issues will be satisfactorily resolved in the Fair Work Commission appraisal process and that members' interests are protected.

Schools requiring a revote

A significant number of schools failed to comply with procedural requirements for Fair Work approval of agreements.

In most cases this related to the giving of seven clear days notice of the time, method and place of voting and of the text of the agreement. These schools will have received the agreement again and there will be a revote. The Union again urges a 'yes' vote for the agreements.

Schools without MEAs

Although the large majority of NSW independent schools soon will have approved MEAs, there are a number of schools where such agreements have not been offered by employers.

Some schools have offered a Teachers MEA, but no Support and Operational (SAO) MEA. Others have not offered any agreement.The Union will discuss these situations with members.

Schools with 'no' votes

Nine schools voted 'no' in the Teachers MEA ballot and two in the SAO MEA. The Union is currently engaged in discussions with our Chapters and the AIS.

In some cases it is anticipated that a revote for the MEA will occur. At least one school has commenced discussions on a single Enterprise Agreement. We have notified a bargaining dispute to initiate discussions in a further school. Again the Union will continue to work with members to try to resolve all disputes.

This has been a difficult round of negotiations, but most members in the independent sector have already achieved certainty over this short two-year period. The Union will seek discussions with the AIS as soon as next year to review salaries and classifications in the three MEAs prior to negotiations in 2016.

Again we thank Reps and members for their support in 2014 and we encourage you to contact the Union if MEA issues arise in your school.