Striking Catholic school teachers slam agreement

PASSIONATE Clarence Valley Catholic school teachers have spoken about feeling "insulted" and "deceived" by the employer as they attempt to negotiate a new workplace agreement.

Twenty-nine teachers and support staff from McAuley Catholic College and St Joseph's Primary School attended a stop work meeting in the South Grafton Ex-Servicemen's Club yesterday.

The meeting was part of a campaign of rolling industrial action in Catholic schools that began in Sydney and will continue through NSW for the rest of the week.

Independent Education Union delegate from St Joseph's, Peter Woolridge, said the strength of the turnout surprised him and would also surprise Catholic education authorities.

"I think they thought they could send us this enterprise agreement and we would roll over and accept it," Mr Woolridge said.

In a meeting characterised by strong feelings, staff from the schools said the Catholic Commission of Employment Relations was treating them more like students than teachers.

"Their enterprise agreement makes out we only work school hours, when we already arrive early, leave late and work on holidays and weekends," one teacher said.

"We're professionals. We put in the extra hours without having to be told to do it," they said.

Union organiser Cassie Barnes told teachers the union placed its version of the enterprise agreement with the CCER when it became due in November last year.

Ms Barnes said the union had taken the previous agreement and added incremental changes for wage upgrades.

"Their enterprise agreement took no notice of anything we had submitted," she said.

The campaign moves west today with teachers in the Tamworth area attending meetings.

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