About 500 teachers and support staff in the Parramatta Catholic Diocese held a stop work meeting today to protest against conditions proposed in their new enterprise agreement.
All but 19 of the 78 primary and high schools in the diocese — which includes The Hills, Blacktown, Holroyd, Parramatta and Penrith council areas — voted for the three-hour protected industrial action at Prince Alfred Park, Parramatta.
One teacher said changes to career progression were among the concerns, with some teachers questioning how deputy leadership positions would be developed under the new agreement.
"I think they saw the original document that was put forward and wanted to make sure their voice was heard," he said.
"If you want to attract the right people to the profession you need to make sure it's a competitive salary."
Another in The Hills said he believed the action was premature.
"From my point of view it's the tail wagging the dog now," he said.
"We see it from our politicians. One side takes one stance and the other side takes the opposite and they maybe meet in the middle rather than starting at the middle."
Executive director of schools in the diocese Greg Whitby said he was disappointed that staff had voted for industrial action so early in the negotiation process.
"It fosters an adversarial position rather than the collaborative approach we are seeking," he said.
Six listening meetings will also be held as part of the negotiation process.
Independent Education Union general secretary John Quessy said the agreement would dismantle conditions that underpin the delivery of quality education.
Details of the enterprise agreement can be found at: foundationsforexcellence.com.au.