Catholic teachers have vowed to join state school teachers in a strike on February 14 to fight for a new pay deal if the drawn-out dispute is not resolved.
The wages of Catholic teachers are directly linked to those in the state system, so until a deal is negotiated between the Australian Education Union and the state government, there can be no deal in the Catholic system.
The government and AEU last night resolved to resume talks on January 31, but Independent Education Union Victoria general secretary Debra James said: “the track record of the government so far has taught us not to hold our breath”.
“The very fact that the negotiations have been this protracted is a direct result of the arrogance we’ve seen from the Baillieu government over the last year, and typical of the lack of respect they have shown for school staff and the important work they do,” Ms James said.
“Their latest comments about school camps and supervision only show how out of touch they are.”
Fairfax Media this week revealed the Education Department sent a memo to principals last year encouraging them to plan for camps and excursions as per usual, despite the introduction of work bans on unpaid overtime from the first day of term one.
The memo said time spent at the camp outside of the allocated 38 hours, such as free time at the end of an afternoon of activities, did not count as actual working hours.
Ms James said the union had written to Catholic teachers calling on them to again take to the streets on February 14.
Up to 60 Catholic schools, including St Monica’s College in Epping – the biggest Catholic school in the state – were closed last September when Catholic teachers joined their state school counterparts in a March to Parliament House.
Ms James said IEU members would prefer not to take further action, but the “intransigence” of the Baillieu government left them with no other option.
“It is insulting to our members to be starting the 2013 school year with no resolution to the standoff and a pay offer from the government that devalues the work of all educators.”