Teachers to stop work at Islamic School of Canberra

Independent Education Union of Australia NSW/ACT Branch

Teachers to stop work at Islamic School of Canberra

Teachers at the Islamic School of Canberra are set to take protected industrial action to protest a protracted enterprise bargaining process. Teachers will stop work for one hour, from 8.50am to 9.50am, on Thursday 30 April.

Since 2016, the IEU and the School Board of the Islamic School of Canberra have been engaged in lengthy negotiations with no end in sight. This is the second time teachers at the school have applied to the Fair Work Commission to take protected industrial action.

The teachers have been patient with their employer, persevering through the school’s many challenges, including threatened deregistration, ongoing funding issues and a change of ownership. Until April 2019, teachers at the school had not received a pay rise in over five years. They are more than $10,000 a year in salary behind their colleagues in other NSW and ACT schools – a wide gap that is only widening.

“Staff employed at the school are an extremely dedicated group who have stuck it out for their students, the school and the wider community during a tough time,” said IEU organiser Lyn Caton. “They are not making any ambit claims but merely trying to preserve their rights and entitlements and align their conditions with teachers throughout the ACT.”

These teachers are also experiencing diminution of their employment conditions:

· Teachers employed after the sale of the school have been employed under the Modern Award’s minimum conditions.

· Longstanding teachers covered under the existing enterprise agreement face the threat of entitlements being reduced if the school succeeds in its application to terminate the enterprise agreement currently before the Fair Work Commission. This application was made shortly after the IEU threatened to apply for a bargaining order due to the school’s failure to bargain in good faith.

“The members have confirmed their concern and dissatisfaction by returning unanimous support for industrial action,” Caton said.

Meanwhile, the school is proposing to curtail other terms and conditions of employment for teachers under the new enterprise agreement, including:

· reducing paid parental leave entitlements from 14 weeks to 2 weeks

· reducing redundancy entitlements to the minimum entitlements in the National Employment Standards

· reducing long service leave entitlements to the minimum provided for in the Act

· increasing notice periods for teachers who wish to resign from their employment.

“Staff are clearly unhappy, and there is a high churn rate at the school,” Caton said. “Teachers see their rights being reduced, and the low salaries make it hard to retain casuals and attract new staff.”

IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Secretary Mark Northam said: “I have nothing but praise for the IEU members at the Islamic School of Canberra, who have collectively indicated their desire to achieve parity with like schools. They have the full support of the union in their ongoing struggle to achieve fair wages and conditions.”

While the teachers recognise the inconvenience of protected industrial action, particularly during Ramadan, IEU members at the school believe they are left with no other option.

/Public Release.