Teachers and staff from some Catholic schools in the Hunter will be taking part in a stop-work meeting this morning.

From the start of duties this morning until 12:30pm, teachers and support staff will be gathering together to fight for the right of arbitration and an independent umpire.

Therese Fitzgibbon from the Independent Education Union said they’ll all meet together first before they march into the city to the Director of Schools office.

‘We’ll be discussing the importance of arbitration and the roles of the independent umpire. We will then march on to the Catholic Schools office where we’ll present a petition to the Director of Schools asking him to ensure that all teachers and support staff have access to the Fair Work Commission and the Independent umpire.”

The union said the strike is really a last resort as Catholic employers failed to respond to their attempt to negotiate almost a year ago.

Therese says it just doesn’t make sense that they don’t have the right to arbitration when other state schools have an automatic right, as well as Catholic schools in Victoria and Queensland.
“We’re not quite sure why the Catholic employees are so frightened of an Independent umpire but certainly its all well and good to have a strong enterprise agreement but if you don’t have the capacity to enforce that agreement then you’ve got a real problem.”
Therese Fitzgibbon said parents have been told about the meeting they hope it won’t cause too much disruption.
‘We acknowledge that industrial action can cause difficulties for parents however teachers feel very strongly about the education that they provide to students and they need to be able to do it in a supported environment so as much as they feel for the families they understand the access to arbitration in important in terms of the education that they provide.”

St Michael’s Primary School at Nelson Bay is one of the Catholic schools

holding a stop-work meeting.