A tale of three schools: Coptic Board plays favourites
In a family of three, only two members get to enjoy the fruits of their labour.
The Coptic Education Board governs three independent Coptic schools in Sydney: St Mark’s at Wattle Grove; St Mary and St Mina’s in Rockdale; and St Bishoy in Mt Druitt. All three are Coptic Orthodox Colleges.
The board has honoured an annual pay rise to staff in both St Mark’s and St Mary and St Mina’s. But St Bishoy has been left out in the cold.
The Independent Education Union NSW/ACT (IEU) represents more than 32,000 teachers and support staff in non-government schools. The union has been in negotiations with the Association of Independent Schools (AIS) since December 2019 – before the previous multi-enterprise agreements expired – to deliver pay rises and improved conditions to its members in these schools.
But in an unprecedented move, the AIS abrogated its role in the negotiations, leaving it to more than 200 individual schools covered by the agreements to negotiate separately for pay rises for 2021.
When the union approached both St Mark’s and St Mary and St Mina’s, the Coptic Education Board granted staff at these two schools a pay rise of 2.5% – broadly in line with pay rises in government schools, other independent schools, Catholic systemic schools and Christian schools.
But in a strange twist, St Bishoy is also governed by an additional, separate board, which has declined to meet with staff and has not provided information about hard-earned pay increases.
Most staff at St Bishoy are IEU members who have, in good faith, written to the Coptic Education Board. They did not receive a response for more than a month, when the board refused pay rises. To make matters worse, when the union wrote again to the board to seek