Catholic teachers to say no to job changes

TEACHERS’ lunch breaks and class size restrictions will be scrapped and the pay for support staff will be cut under a new industrial agreement proposed for NSW Catholic schools.

About 70 staff from St Patrick’s Parish School, Holy Spirit School and Xavier High School were a sea of red as they stood together at the Commercial Club yesterday to fight the new recommendations from the Catholic Commission for Employment Relations.

Holy Spirit School teacher and NSW ACT Independent Education Union Riverina branch vice-president Simon Goss said teachers were “insulted and shocked” by the suggestions made by their employers.

“We deserve to have our conditions maintained and not taken away,” Mr Goss said.

“Shame on our employers and the directors who signed off on it.”

The agreement says assistant principal and school co-ordinator positions will be stamped out and any teacher wanting to step into a leadership role will have to have completed a master’s degree with a distinction average.

Xavier High School teacher and NSW ACT Independent Education Union Riverina branch president Genevieve O’Reilly said the proposed agreement was their biggest concern.

“The impact on schools will be significant because it totally dismantles the traditional practices,” she said.

The meeting also disputed a proposed increase in face-to-face teaching times.

“It would give teachers less time to prepare lessons which sacrifices the quality of teaching,” Ms O’Reilly said.

Mr Goss said the cut to support staff’s pay was significant, with a reduction for some positions of between $6000 and $17,000 a year.

Catholic Commission for Employment Relations executive director Tony Farley said education was rapidly changing and the proposal was designed to initiate a conversation with the union.

“We want to develop a proposal everyone will agree to,” he said.

“We need to respond to the challenges of the 21st century and we want to spend time talking that through with the union and not dealing with a 1970s industrial campaign.”

Mr Farley said the commission did not want to watch Catholic teachers and staff lose money through stop-work meetings and would continue its conversations with the union and schools.