Catholic school teachers to join IR protests

Following criticism by the Prime Minister of government school teachers who plan to join tomorrow's national protests against workplace laws, unions for teachers in Catholic and independent schools have confirmed that thousands of private school staff are also expected to participate.

Prime Minister John Howard had earlier described Victorian government school teachers' plans to participate in the nationwide protests as giving government schools a bad name, the Australian reports.

"Victoria has the highest percentage of school students enrolled in independent and Catholic schools than anywhere (in the country)," Mr Howard said.

"This action by Victorian teachers will further reduce the esteem of the government education system in the eyes of Victorian parents.

"If they want to demonstrate against our laws, do it in their own time."

But Independent Education Union Federal Secretary Lyn Rolley told AAP that teachers from independent and Catholic schools were just as likely to be at the rally, and associated meetings, as government school teachers.

"We will be at all the rallies, all around the country," Ms Rolley said.

"We've asked them to join their rallies where they live.

"In some places they will, as well, have some protests at schools. They'll have workplace meetings, etcetera, so depending where they are they'll have different kinds of arrangements."

She said the union had asked all its members to register their protest at the WorkChoices legislation.

Ms Rolley accused Mr Howard of attempting to be divisive.

"He's being his usual divisive self, seeking to divide and undermine various groups within the community," she said.

Meanwhile, the Full Bench of the Federal Court backed the right of a federal government official to take leave to attend the national union protest on industrial laws, the Age reports.

The decision overturns last Friday's ruling by Justice Dennis Cowdroy that Gregory McCarron, an employee in the OEA's Sydney office, could not take a day's leave to join the national day of protest organised by the ACTU.

The court ruling is significant in confirming that employees have the right to use their leave as they see fit, the Age says.

In a national day of protest tomorrow, thousands of workers will attend union-organised rallies in capital cities against the Government's workplace laws.

For the main rally, to be broadcast around the country, the ACTU is pledging to fill the Melbourne Cricket Ground with protesters and their families.

Court allows workers leave to protest (The Australian 29/11/06)

Court allows workers leave to protest (The Australian, 29/11/06)

PM attacks Victorian teachers (Herald-Sun, 29/11/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Australian Council of Trade Unions
Independent Education Union

Bishop's comments at centre of IR tug-of-war (CathNews, 9/8/06)
Families biggest losers under Workchoices, say clerics (CathNews 30/6/06)
Bishop Manning briefs police on new workplace moral conundrum (CathNews 24/5/06)
Brennan foreshadows lower minimum wage (CathNews 2/5/06)
St Joseph the Worker call to listen to threatened workers (CathNews 1/5/06)
Employment body echoes concern on minimum wage (CathNews 27/3/06)

29 Nov 2006