Wages circuit breaker a way forward on teacher shortages 

Sunday 16 October 2022 

Wages circuit breaker a way forward on teacher shortages 

Our voice is being heard. The NSW Labor opposition has come out in strong support of allowing the NSW Industrial Relations Commission (NSWIRC) to determine the value of work performed by teachers and school support staff.  

The Independent Education Union of Australia NSW/ACT Branch, which represents 33,000 teachers and support staff in the non-government sector, welcomes a proposal that would enable the NSWIRC to determine fair salaries for teachers and support staff beyond simply applying an arbitrary wages cap.  

Since 2011, running a work-value case in the NSWIRC has been futile. It has been hamstrung for more than a decade, with no choice but to implement the NSW Government’s restrictive wages policy.  

“Restoring independence to the NSWIRC is essential,” said IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Secretary Mark Northam. “The NSWIRC must be able to resolve protracted, complex disputes such as those endured by teachers, school support staff, nurses, and NSW public servants this year. It must be empowered to carry out its functions.” 

Although Catholic school employers are not bound by the state industrial relations system, they have long hidden behind the NSW Government’s wages policy. They have also failed to address staff shortages and chronic workload intensification in their schools. 

During a two-week period in August, the IEU carried out a survey in which 77 per cent of Catholic school respondents reported being unable to fill one or more casual teacher vacancies.  

Even Catholic employers admit their sector will have a workforce shortfall of about 15 per cent by 2030. “This equates to more than 3000 teachers across NSW and the ACT,” Northam said. “It is an extraordinary admission that the current system has failed. 

“The recent offer made by Catholic employers would do nothing but lock in cuts to real wages right up until 2025 in the face of acute staffing shortages. 

“Unless Catholic employers take positive steps to address casualisation, job insecurity and workload intensification, this crisis will not be abated. 

“Catholic employers have stayed silent on the sidelines for too long. It is time for them to back in their teachers and support staff by negotiating in good faith with their union.” 


IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Secretary Mark Northam 0427 667 061 
Media: Sue Osborne 0430 220 254; Monica Crouch 0411 645 751 

The IEUA NSW/ACT Branch represents over 32,000 teachers, principals and support staff in Catholic and independent schools, early childhood centres and post-secondary colleges. 

Authorised by Mark Northam, Secretary, IEUA NSW/ACT Branch