On behalf of the IEU, we hope that Term 3 has started well for you and your school community.
The Union appreciated the opportunity to meet last term with principal members in Sydney’s Southern Region and in Newcastle. At the Newcastle meeting, principals raised concerns about the proposed restructure of the Catholic Schools Office and other agencies in the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese, including the impact on schools and whether costs would increase under the new model.
Principals in Catholic systemic schools will be aware of IEU concerns about arbitration – access to the ‘fair umpire.’ The concern relates to dispute resolution in the enterprise agreement (EA) for teachers and general employees and specifically about access to Fair Work Commission arbitration. Access to such arbitration is in place in the Catholic sectors in Victoria and Queensland, for nurses in NSW Catholic hospitals, and for most NSW Government sector employees.
Until quite recently, NSW/ACT Catholic employers had not disputed the right to arbitration under the systemic EA and the IEU has only pursued a limited number of matters to arbitration. We have no reason to think that this limited use would change but we believe that the right is a valuable one. Enterprise agreements and work practice agreements need to be able to be enforced where necessary.
While EAs for NSW/ACT Catholic systemic principals are already in place, the interpretation of access to arbitration of disputes is of relevance to all Catholic sector employees.
Over 500 Catholic systemic school chapters have now met to endorse a resolution in relation to the EA and this may lead to a ballot for protected industrial action if this matter is not resolved.
Principals’ understanding and support is appreciated.
The IEU’s Principals Sub Branch Term 3 meeting was held on 5 August and the Term 4 meeting is scheduled for 4 November. Opportunities are welcome for meetings at regional, diocesan or sector levels. A teleconference for principals in independent schools is scheduled for 14 September.