Teachers from St Catherine's Catholic College to strike on Monday

IEUA NSW/ACT Newcastle Officer, Therese Fitzgibbon, has confirmed teachers from St Catherine’s Catholic College in Singleton will be participating in the next round of industrial action on Monday, December 4.

They are continuing the fight against their Catholic employer who has taken the unprecedented action of putting an enterprise agreement to the vote without gaining union endorsement.

An agreement that if put in place could see Catholic employers vetoing the right of the union to access the Fair Work Commission for arbitration, Ms Fitzgibbon says. 

She says their employer has refused to adjust the clause after recent changes in the landscape no longer enshrine the right to arbitration unless both parties agree.

This dispute is not about pay as a 2.5% pay rise was settled nearly a year ago, but has yet to be paid. 

Members during industrial action in November.

Members during industrial action in November.

Other details of the enterprise agreement also remain unresolved.

The vote it due to begin on Tuesday, December 5.

IEU Secretary John Quessy says members were at “boiling point” after employers took the unprecedented action of putting an enterprise agreement to the vote without gaining union endorsement. 

“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,” he says.

“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.”

Mr Quessy says it outrageous that employers were indicating staff needed to vote ‘yes’ on December 5 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.”

Director of the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese Catholic Schools Office (CSO), Michael Slattery, says he is disappointed the IEU is calling on its members in Diocesan schools to stop work on Monday.

“I’ve said it before and I will say it again: The CSO is keen to resolve this dispute as soon as possible,” he explains.

“Despite both the Catholic Commission for Employment Relations (CCER)  and the IEU negotiating in good faith - and this has involved lots of robust discussions and plenty of hard work on both sides over two years - we have not been able to achieve a mutually agreeable resolution on the issue of arbitration.”

“I would encourage staff to vote YES when they vote on the proposed Enterprise Agreement in its current format on December 5 – and for the IEU and Catholic Commission for Employment Relations (CCER) to continue to negotiate the arbitration clause in the New Year.”