Catholic school teachers voting on strike action

TEACHERS and support staff at Catholic schools in the Lismore diocese have started voting on whether to strike over cuts to pay and working conditions.

The action by the members of the Independent Education Union comes after sweeping changes proposed by Catholic employers including increased working hours, reduced sick leave and no opportunity for promotion.

Lismore Independent Education Union organisers Sandra White and Steve Bergan said the threat to staff was significant.

"The draft agreement proposed by Catholic employers threatens to increase hours of face-to-face teaching, scrap restrictions on class sizes, abolish all promotions positions, take away the right to a half-hour meal break and reduce sick leave," Mr Bergan said.

"Support staff are threatened with pay cuts between $6156 and $17,417 per annum for the same work. This is just for starters."

Independent Education Union general secretary John Quessy said if the ballot was supported, industrial action would begin early in term three.

Ms White said the ballot, if successful, would allow teachers to exercise their industrial rights and be protected from prosecution.

"Workloads and expectations continue to grow, with teachers and support staff under more pressure than ever before," she said.

The ballot, which is being conducted by the Australian Electoral Commission, closes on July 4.