Staff at the region’s Catholic schools will be on strike by the end of term, their union has predicted.
Later this month, teachers and support staff will take part in a ballot which, if successful, will permit them to take protected industrial action.
But even without a vote cast, Independent Education Union acting general secretary Gloria Taylor said some form of industrial action was inevitable.
‘‘We anticipate that we will have industrial action in many schools by the end of term,’’ Ms Taylor said.
‘‘It’s a school by school arrangement. There will be a range of action that will include some stop-work action.’’
At issue is the draft agreement put forward by the Catholic Commission for Employment Relations (CCER), which is representing the Catholic Education Office (CEO) Wollongong.
The union claims the draft agreement will cut salaries and jobs, increase face-to-face teaching hours and reduce sick leave.
Ms Taylor said members were strongly opposed to the proposal offered by the CCER.
‘‘We’ve had an unprecedented number of responses to this issue,’’ she said.
‘‘The Catholic employers put up their proposed agreement on the website the very last week of last term.
‘‘When we read it, when our parents read it, we had virtually all schools responding to a motion putting their hands up to take industrial action.’’
A spokesman for CEO Wollongong, Tim Gilmour, said it was disappointing the union was looking at strike action after just one negotiation session.
‘‘We’re disappointed that discussion around protected industrial action is already being discussed before the process of negotiation and bargaining has really had a chance to begin,’’ Mr Gilmour said.
‘‘The conversation the IEU is having now about protected industrial action is so premature. As employers we don’t disagree with people’s right to take industrial action. We believe inherently in that right.
‘‘But it shouldn’t be used as a first resort. It should be used when there are no other possible means to progress the conversation.’’
Ms Taylor agreed that there had only been one formal negotiation meeting but added that the union’s claim had been presented in November and they had been seeking meetings since the beginning of the year.