Catholic school teachers vote 95.91 per cent ‘no’ to proposed enterprise agreement

Catholic school teachers in the Maitland-NewcastleDiocese have sent an emphatic response to their employers, voting 95.91 per cent against a proposed three-year enterprise agreement.

The vote concluded at 5pm onMonday after a week-long process and the Hunter vote came in even higher than the 87.9 per cent state average.

The enterprise agreementwas put forward to teachers and support staff without endorsement from the Independent Education Union (IEU),who are wanting the inclusion of a clausethat allowsstaff to seek arbitration in the Fair Work Commission over disputes.

STOP WORK: Catholic school teachers from around the Hunter have been on strike in recent weeks.

IEU Newcastle officer Therese Fitzgibbon believes the vote showstheCatholic Commission for Employment Relations (CCER) how staff are prepared to dig in.

“It sendsa very strong message that members will not accept an agreement that doesn’t contain a fair and reasonable dispute’s resolution clause,” she said.

“Members understand the importance of us being able to enforce our agreements and clearly they understand that this agreement does not allow them access to the Fair Work Comission.

“And I would hope it sends a clear message to employers that they can not,as suggested previously, put the same agreement to the vote again next year.”

Read more: Catholic school teachers continue industrial action

Prior to the vote, the CCER said that there was no need to include arbitration in the agreement as the existing process has been successful in handling disputes.

Given the results of the vote, theHeraldunderstands a meeting will take place between the CCER and IEU in coming weeks which could pave a way forward.

However, Maitland-Newcastle Diocese Catholic Schools Office (CSO) directorMichael Slattery reiterated the CCER’s stanceregarding the inclusion of the clause.

“I am on record as expressing my disappointment that the IEU feels that the current process for resolving disputes – which is in the existing enterprise agreement – needs to be changed,” Mr Slattery said.

“I believe there is no need to change the existing dispute resolution process for three reasons – over the last seven years it has successfully resolved every dispute that’s been notified; it is the same clause the IEU recently endorsed for 450 private schools; and it is consistent with the Fair Work Act.

“Also, there is no reason whatsoever to think that this process for resolving disputes won’t continue to be just as effective in the future as it has been in the past.”

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