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Catholic school staff vote to strike

The vote follows months of industrial action from public school teachers.

Catholic school staff have voted overwhelmingly to support taking protected industrial action next Friday for better pay and conditions. More than 17,000 teachers in over 540 Catholic diocesan schools across NSW participated in the ballot.

The ballot comes after months of negotiations by the Independent Education Union (IEU) for a new enterprise agreement in Catholic diocesan schools. The IEU has five demands: a 10-15% increase in teachers’ pay over two years, pay parity for support staff with their public sector colleagues, reducing paperwork, increasing planning time, and an end to staff shortages.

In a statement, the IEU NSW/ACT Branch Secretary Mark Northam said: “Teachers and support staff across both the government and non-government sectors are dedicated professionals pushed to breaking point. Schools have been running on good will, but it is rapidly evaporating.”

Northam explained that the NSW Government’s cap on pay increases has been adopted in the Catholic sector, describing the limit as “a short-sighted approach that has resulted in the current staffing crisis”.

The IEU will hold a rally and march on Friday 27 May at Sydney Town Hall and around NSW. The IEU Executive endorsed a full-day work stoppage on the same day.

The IEU’s Hear Our Voice campaign occurs in the context of a slew of strikes over the last year. Months of strikes by public sector workers, including by the NSW Teachers Federation and Rail, Tram & Bus Union, have taken aim at government pay caps and poor working conditions. 
University staff at USyd, UTS and WSU have also taken steps to go on strike, targeting poor pay, rampant casualisation and pressure to overwork within the tertiary education sector.