TEACHERS and support staff from Catholic Diocese of Bathurst schools have walked off the job to fight for their rights to arbitration.
More than 300 staff were involved in Wednesday morning’s industrial action from 10 schools across the diocese, including the Assumption School and St Philomena's Catholic Primary School in Bathurst.
Independent Education Union (IEU) NSW/ACT assistant secretary Mark Northam said the enterprise agreement covering Catholic schools expired in December, 2016 and it failed to protect workers arbitration rights.
“The purpose of today’s action in the Diocese of Bathurst is to tap the local director on the shoulder and request that she reconsiders her position and that arbitration is a perfectly reasonable thing for the teachers and support staff that work in this diocese to enjoy,” he said.
“There’s not much dignity in the independent Catholic school system if you can’t have arbitration.”
Mr Northam said the statewide rolling strike was not about money, rather it was about protecting the rights of 20,000 workers across NSW and the ACT.
“If you want a school to run well and you don’t want people stressing about what their roles are you need and agreement,” he said.
There’s not much dignity in the independent Catholic school system if you can’t have arbitration.Independent Education Union (IEU) NSW/ACT assistant secretary Mark Northam
Mr Northam said workers have had arbitration rights since the 1970s and if this was taken away it could lead to uncertainty, misunderstandings and embitterment.
“They’re really turning back the clock to a pre-1970s perspective that workers don’t need arbitration,” Mr Northam said.
Staff attendance at the strike was done on a ballot system to ensure workers rights were protected.
The 30 attendees at the stop work meeting were told the strike was a last resort as Catholic employers had failed to response to the IEU’s attempts to negotiate for more than a year.
The enterprise agreement covering Catholic schools saw members agree to a 2.5 per cent pay rise, but they are yet to receive this while they fight for rights to arbitration.
Mr Northam said the ideal outcome for teachers and support staff would be that Catholic employers, who are meeting at the end of this week in Sydney, “would rethink their position”.