TEACHERS in religious order schools throughout Queensland joined with Catholic Education teachers in the Cairns and Toowoomba diocese to again take to the streets in support of a wage rise.
Rallies were to be held in Brisbane, Cairns, Yeppoon, Toowoomba, Dalby, Warwick and Townsville on March 24 by teachers involved in a campaign for higher wages.
While none of Brisbane Catholic Education’s 133 schools supported the strike action, Catholic schools in Toowoomba and Cairns dioceses, along with 27 schools operated by various religious institutes, mainly in the Brisbane area, were affected in some way by the action.
Cairns Catholic Education advised five of its schools in the diocese were to be closed on Wednesday; five to be open, with supervision; and that the rest were to be open.
Queensland Catholic Education Commission executive director Mike Byrne said he believed the salary and conditions package offered by Catholic school employers was fair and responsible.
Mr Byrne said teachers had received a 4.5 per cent increase, paid in good faith from May last year, and under the current offer would receive a four per cent increase in July this year to be followed by a further four per cent due in July 2011.
“Enhancements have also been made to long service, parental and maternity leave entitlements and position of added responsibility (PAR) arrangements,” he said.
“A new accomplished teacher classification above existing levels for classroom teachers has also been offered.
“This package is comparable with the state school sector in Queensland.”
Mr Byrne said the offer was responsible, but would place significant pressure on Catholic school budgets over the next few years.
“The further increases being sought by the union are simply not affordable given the level of government grants to schools and the capacity of parents to contribute,” he said.
Independent Education Union of Australia’s Queensland and Northern Territory Branch secretary Terry Burke said it was time for Catholic employers to settle the wage issue by showing some leadership.
“These negotiations have now been going on for over 12 months and it is time Catholic employers return to the negotiating table with another revised wage offer that would see employees receive interstate benchmark rates of pay,” Mr Burke said.
“Taking industrial action again is an absolute last resort but members have had no choice and will not and should not have to accept a mediocre wage deal.”
Mr Byrne said Catholic school authorities recognised and respected the right of employees to take industrial action.
“However it is disappointing that this action is being planned when a fair and responsible offer has been made,” he said.