Australian Catholic teachers strike

Thousands of Australian Catholic teachers and support staff are said to be at “boiling point” after their Catholic employers put an enterprise agreement to a vote without gaining union endorsement.

Catholic teachers from about 350 schools in New South Wales (NSW) and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) walked off the job yesterday to attend rallies.

These were held in several cities, with teachers stopping working for four hours from 8.30am.

The dispute is about Catholic employers vetoing the right of the union to access the Fair Work Commission for arbitration.

Details of the enterprise agreement also remain unresolved.

Some teachers will strike again on Monday as tensions between their union and employer escalate over a proposed new enterprise agreement.

Catholic school employees within the Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn have not received a pay rise for about a year.

The Independent Education Union NSW and ACT branch secretary John Quessy says a walk-out has never happened before in Australian history.

“Catholic employers are coming for our members’ rights and they will not tolerate that. We are urging a ‘no’ vote.

“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.”

The Independent Education Union wants the new contract to include the right to call in the Fair Work Commission for arbitration when disagreements can’t be settled in-house.

The commission would rather maintain the status quo if such a deal hasn’t been made in writing.

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