Strikes by teachers working in catholic schools in Australia are escalating. We reported last week the strike by teachers in Tasmania against attacks on both their conditions and those of teaching assistants. Now teachers, who are members of the Independent Education Union in both New South Wales (NSW) and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) have voted to take strike action on August 25th and 26th respectively.

Catholic employers have introduced an 'enterprise' agreement, which according to the IEU general secretary, does not so much consult as insult the teachers and teaching assistants. They are proposing to scrap class size limits, increase face to face teaching hours, abolish promotion opportunities, take away the right to a half hour meal break and reduce sick leave. Meanwhile support staff will have their salaries slashed.

The employers' leader is trying to cast the union as the dinosaur in the room who are expecting an, "Old school approach to a new school agreement. The union should hang its head in shame for leading staff into believing that having discussions about schools in the 21st century is a threat to their livelihood. With these changes we need to ensure we have safeguards and a document that supports professional learning and teaching practice going forward.  We need a contemporary agreement for contemporary schooling."

This gobbledegook is typical of the rhetoric of education 'reformers' all over the world who try to cast themselves as innovative advocates for education while rubbishing teachers and in particular their unions. Clearly this is not cutting much ice with teachers and teaching assistants in the Australian catholic school system, who know an attack on labour rights and education when they see one.