Catholic schools to join in strike

NORTH East teachers will strike for the fourth time in eight months after the Federal Court yesterday rejected a Victorian government attempt to halt industrial action.

Catholic school teachers are set to join their state counterparts’ stopwork next Thursday, encouraged by their union, the Independent Education Union.

Catholic schools hold separate enterprise bargaining agreements with the Catholic Education Office, but their wages are linked to the state system, so they get the same pay rates at the same time as public school teachers.

Catholic College Wodonga IEU branch representative Andrew McKenzie-McHarg hoped most of the 50 members would get behind the stopwork.

While the Australian Education Union, representing public school teachers, will host a Melbourne protest on Thursday, Mr McKenzie-McHarg said the IEU planned to host a protest on the Border.

“Our members are only doing this out of desperation, everyone has raised concerns about disrupting students and families,” he said.

“This decision has not been taken lightly.”

Galen Catholic College IEU representative John McKenzie said he expected 75 per cent of the Wangaratta school’s staff, about 50 teachers, to take part in the stopwork.

“What state teachers get, we get ... so if it’s a bad outcome for them, it’s bad for us,” he said.

“People are absolutely fed up with this.”

Other Border Catholic schools, including St Monica’s, Frayne College and St Augustine’s, did not respond to calls yesterday.

IEU media officer James Raynes said the union hoped negotiations would be completed before Thursday so the stopwork didn’t have to take place.

“We hope there will be (a resolution) but we’re not holding our breath,” he said.

He said the IEU would know in the next couple of days which Border schools would take part in the strike.

AEU North East president Kim O’Shea expected a strong presence from the region’s teachers at Hisense Arena on Thursday, at 10.30am.

She said there were about 16,500 AEU members across primary and secondary schools in the North East.

“We’re not dwindling, we’re growing, (the injunction) didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits,” she said.

“We’re going to lose good educators if they don’t get paid fairly.

“At the top level of the scale, Wodonga teachers earn $2500 less than their Albury counterparts.”

Any AEU members who wish to join the Melbourne protest can register for a bus service with the Benalla AEU office toll free on 1800 013 994.