Wollongong Catholic schools vote to strike in July

Almost 90 per cent of Catholic schools in the Wollongong diocese have voted to strike in July to draw attention to their negotiations with the Catholic Commission for Employment Relations.

On July 17, Independent Education Union members from 31 schools from the diocese, which stretches from Campbelltown almost to Batemans Bay and west to Bundanoon, will stop work for three hours and gather at a venue in Wollongong.

At the stopwork event, members will sign a petition to present to the Wollongong Catholic Education Office director, asking them to intervene with the commission on behalf of IEU members in the Wollongong diocese in negotiations over current salaries and working conditions.

Teachers will return to school by midday.

Independent Education Union general secretary John Quessy said the results sent a strong message to employers that teachers and support staff in Catholic schools would not accept threats to pay, conditions and job security.

"Even the difficult logistics of 35 separate ballots were not enough to dampen Diocese of Wollongong members' resolve to authorise industrial action," Mr Quessy said.

Independent Education Union organiser David Towson said the conditions contained in the employer proposal were "so far below those we have struggled for over many decades that to use that as a starting point would be irresponsible, insulting and would inevitably have a detrimental impact on our children's education".

Executive director of the commission Tony Farley said the industrial action created "unnecessary anxiety" and that the proposed new enterprise agreement was up for discussion.

"An old 70s-style industrial campaign is unhelpful and counter-productive as we continue our discussions with the union about change and innovation in our schools," Mr Farley said

"We have made it clear ... that everything presented is on the table for discussion.

"Industrial action is normally taken as a last resort when negotiations have been exhausted. This is certainly not the case."

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