Catholic School Teachers Strike

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JCNN reporters were on the scene to speak with local Catholic school teachers striking over negotiations with their employers.

By Robert Blake with material from Marion Walker-Campbell

Hundreds of teachers from Catholic schools across the state walked off the job last week over delayed employment negotiations.

In Townsville, teachers from 16 Catholic schools went on strike and gathered to discuss the lack of progress in their enterprise bargaining negotiations.

TEACHERS STRIKE: Hundreds gathered at the Mecure Hotel for the rally.
(Photo by: Marion Walker-Campbell)

Independent Education Union of Australia Queensland (IEUAQ) co-ordinator Chris Seymour said the rally was a chance for teachers to have their say.

“We are gathering here to discuss our clear disappointment with employers’ lack of respect, lack of recognition and lack of reward,” he said.

Mr Seymour said Catholic Schools are “well thought of in the community” and have family support, but employers are not supporting the workforce.

“What we need to do is try and send a clear message to an employer that now is the time to reconsider their position,” he said.

“This is certainly not just about salary and wages – this is really about the conditions which are conducive to good teaching.”

Mr Seymour said he hoped the rally, held last Thursday, would persuade Catholic schools across Queensland to rethink their position and come to a resolution.

He said future action was dependent on the outcome of the meetings with employers.

“A lot will depend on the attitude of the employer and in the meeting today, we will consider what action we will take if there is no movement next week,” he said.

Ryan Catholic College teacher Ryan Christoffersen, who was at the rally, said Queensland teachers are getting left behind.

“I am disappointed that other states in Australia are getting a lot more pay than Queensland teachers,” he said.

“It is probably going to be at least 10 years if we get a reasonable pay rise before we can even think about catching up with the other states.”

Mr Christoffersen has been a teacher in the Catholic Education system for 13 years and said past Catholic teachers have fought for their pay rates to be the same as teachers working in government schools.

“I am disappointed at the Union for not taking a harder stance,” he said.

“It has taken this long to actually get some kind of action happening and it’s well overdue.”

St Margaret Mary’s College Principal Kathy Park did not attend the rally on Thursday but said she fully supports those who voiced their concerns.

“I believe they (teachers) are free to express their fair claims as it is in their best interest and I’m fully supportive of their rights,” she said.

“Anything to improve the teaching in Catholic schools and make teaching better is worth supporting.

“It’s a shame it has come to this stage but I hope, as they are doing this in good faith, they may be able to come to a resolution soon.”

The IEUAQ will meet with Catholic schools next week to discuss their concerns.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w8DECNE2JC4[/youtube]