Taree and Wingham Catholic school teachers to strike

TEACHERS and support staff in Catholic schools in the Manning Valley and Great Lakes areas will strike in protest of "threats to pay, conditions and job security."

Collectively more than 1200 students who attend St Clare's High School and St Joseph's Primary School in Taree, St Joseph's Primary School in Wingham and Holy Name Primary School in Forster will be impacted by the three-hour strike this Thursday, June 26. However, staff at St Joseph's Primary School in Wingham will strike from 9am until noon on Friday, June 27. Minimal supervision of students will occur during the strike on Thursday with St Joseph's Primary School in Taree requesting parents "consider keeping their children at home until classes resume at noon."

St Clare's High School in Taree will be impacted from 9am until noon with principal Peter Nicholls advising "the school would be open for students to come to school. However there will be an altered program of classes."

The decision to strike comes in the wake of 90 per cent of Hunter Valley Catholic systemic schools voting to take industrial action, according to the Independent Education Union (IEU).

General secretary John Quessy says the results deliver a strong message to employers that teachers and support staff in Catholic schools would not accept threats to pay, conditions and job security.

The industrial action is not unique to Manning Valley and Great Lakes schools with all schools in The Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle taking part in the strike.

"Even the difficult logistics of 55 separate postal ballots were not enough to dampen Hunter Valley members' resolve to authorise industrial action," Mr Quessy said.

In the Hunter Valley staff from the various schools will assemble at Wickham Park prior to marching to the Catholic Schools Office to present a petition.

"The petition will call on the director of schools to intervene in the dispute with the Catholic Commission for Employment Relations on behalf of members employed in the Maitland-Newcastle Diocese," explained Hunter Valley IEU organiser Therese Fitzgibbon.

"It is hoped that this intervention will force the employer to negotiate around current salaries and conditions rather than those contained in their draconian proposal.

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

"When you take away teacher planning, resources and special needs supports while increasing class sizes and workloads you can guarantee that this will be felt in the classroom. It's time for employers to recognise teachers and staff as professionals, respect the work they do and reward them appropriately."

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