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MEDIA RELEASE: Education staff urge Senator Pocock to back new industrial relations laws

IEU - Media Release 2022 (962x176).jpgTuesday 15 November 2022

Education staff urge Senator Pocock to back new industrial relations laws

Teachers and support staff in the independent schools sector will urge new Senator David Pocock to support the Federal Government’s Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill at his town hall meeting on Wednesday 16 November so they can gain the right to take legally protected industrial action.

The ACT Senator wants to delay the legislation, and the school teachers, principals and support staff who are directly impacted by it want to ask him why and explain to him how the current laws unfairly impact them.

Teachers, support staff and principals in Catholic diocesan schools can take protected action as they are considered to have a single-interest employer. But thousands of independent school employees throughout Australia, who are covered by multi-enterprise agreements, do not have this democratic right. Yet independent school employers can unite and bargain for these agreements. This is an obvious imbalance of power.

Labor’s Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill would grant teachers and support staff in independent schools the same rights that other workers take for granted.

“This new legislation updates the rules for multi-employer bargaining and removes many of the complex legal restrictions that are holding back wages and conditions,” said Independent Education Union of Australia NSW/ACT Branch Secretary Mark Northam.

“As it stands, employees in independent schools cannot get assistance from the Fair Work Commission if bargaining breaks down, because the schools are offering a multi-enterprise agreement. In no circumstances can these employees take protected industrial action.”

The IEU’s Vice President ACT, Angela McDonald, who is a teacher at St Thomas Aquinas Primary School in Charnwood, said: “All teachers and support staff in ACT schools should be able to have their say about their pay and conditions, including the right to take protected industrial action.”

Alex Thompson, a history teacher at Canberra Grammar School, said: “When bargaining is delayed, we have few ways of getting the employer to the table, leaving staff relying on the goodwill of schools for any pay rise.”

David Caton, a teacher at Daramalan College, Dickson, said: “We are glad to teach in a school that stands for social justice and fairness, but under the current industrial relations system, there is no fairness for teachers and support staff. It’s highly unlikely we would take industrial action, but we should have the right to do so in bargaining for a better deal. Employers can act collectively, we should have that right as well.”