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News release: Catholic teachers escalate strike action

Thousands of Catholic school teachers and support staff across NSW and the ACT will stop work on Monday, 4 December for four hours in the next round of industrial action to protest Catholic employers’ stubborn refusal to strike a reasonable bargain.

There will also be a series of regional rallies in a variety of locations, including several in Sydney, Canberra, Griffith, Wagga Wagga, Albury, Bathurst, Lismore, Wollongong, Armidale, Newcastle and the Central Coast and many others.

The rallies provide great photo and interview opportunities, with Independent Education Union (IEU) members gathering wearing colourful campaign t-shirts, bearing placards and chanting.

“The mood of members has lifted with more than 100 additional schools taking part in this second round of action following a series of a stop works in early November,” IEU Secretary John Quessy said.

About 350 NSW and ACT schools will participate in the action.

Quessy said members were at “boiling point” after employers took the unprecedented action of putting an enterprise agreement to the vote without gaining union endorsement. The employers’ vote is due to begin on Tuesday, 5 December.

“This has never been done before in Australian history. Catholic employers are coming for our members’ rights and they will not tolerate that. We are urging a ‘no’ vote,” Quessy said.

“It is clear they want absolute power over their employees and the members are standing firm against this.

“Our action is sending a clear message that we reject their enterprise agreement.”

This dispute is not about pay. A 2.5% pay rise was settled nearly a year ago, but has yet to be paid. Rather the dispute is about Catholic employers vetoing the right of the union to access the Fair Work Commission for arbitration. Details of the enterprise agreement also remain unresolved.

Quessy said it was outrageous that employers were indicating staff needed to vote ‘yes’ on 5 December in order to get their pay rise.

“Our members will not be held to ransom by employers dangling a meagre pay rise as a carrot.

“Teachers and support staff want their conditions protected by their enterprise agreement and by the Fair Work Commission. They do not want and will not put up with employers’ bullying.

“The IEU calls on Catholic employers to stop their attacks on the rights of workers.”

Media invitation

Media are welcome for interviews and photo ops during the rallies and march.

For more details: Sue Osborne 8202 8900, or Bronwyn Ridgway (a/h) 0433 373 109

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