The ‘yes’ vote will bring to an end the long and sometimes bitter dispute between the IEUA NSW/ACT Branch and the 11 Catholic dioceses, with teachers and support staff winning provisions that will benefit themselves and their students.

The new enterprise agreement enshrines access to the Fair Work Commission for arbitration, something that was challenged by the employer, and includes work practices agreements which allow teachers and support staff to spend more time with students and less time on data collection and input, meetings and emails.

The agreement includes a 2.5 per cent pay rise for 2017, 2018 and 2019 in NSW and in the ACT teachers received 1.5 per cent in April, with an additional pay rise to come in line with public schools. 

In most dioceses, meeting times are capped to 10 hours per term and there is a commitment to limit unnecessary data processing and programming that is not directly related to teaching. Staff are not required to respond to emails outside of normal school hours.

The new work practices agreements also allow for more mentoring and release from face-to-face teaching for new teachers to address the exodus from the profession in the early years.

For instance, in the Lismore diocese, new teachers are now allocated 16 days of release in their first year with eight in their second year, and in the Armidale diocese, beginning teachers will receive 18 days of release time.

Support staff will be paid an allowance for attending overnight camps.

“It’s a tribute to the determination and unity of our members that they stuck to their guns for 18 months, despite attempts by the employers to bribe them with a pay rise, because they knew how fundamental the right to arbitration was,” Gloria Taylor, Acting Secretary IEUA NSW/ACT Branch said.

“They also understood that provisions addressing work intensification would benefit not only them but their students, allowing more time for what they originally signed up for,” Taylor said.

“The challenges of this campaign proved that ACTU Secretary Sally McManus is right, and the rules that govern industrial relations are broken and need to be changed. Nevertheless, despite many obstacles, the union has won through, and the end result will benefit school staff, students and parents.”