SDA ministers & teachers employed as nuns and priests

Church teachers win union rights

A GROUP of minister-teachers with the Seventh Day Adventist Church have won the right to be covered by a union award, with access for the first time to paid maternity leave.

And the decision could flow on to more than 800 Seventh Day Adventist minister-teachers employed across Australia.

The Independent Education Union (IEU) had taken a case to the NSW Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) on behalf of 37 minister-teachers in Sydney's north.

The union argued that minister-teachers ofNSW IEU state secretary Dick Shearman said the decision would bring the Seventh Day Adventist teachers into line with all other churches that operated schools.on rejected the Seventh Day Adventists' argument that the minister-teachers should not be covered by the award because it would represent an undue influence of the state on the workings of the church.

"It sets a clear demarcation between the intersection of religious duty and industrial rights," Mr Shearman said.

"Just because you serve the church as a teacher doesn't mean you don't have any rights as a worker."

Mr Shearman said under the Seventh Day Adventist rules, minister-teachers had been exempt from award coverage and were employed the same way as nuns and priests.

"It was a test case and it now opens up the way for other minister teachers to come through and ask for award coverage and to be members of a union," he said.

Mr Shearman said the 37 teachers involved in the case would now be paid on a higher salary and have access to paid maternity leave and carers' leave.

Seventh Day Adventist national associate education director Dennis Reye said the church accepted the right of minister-teachers to seek award coverage.

"The tribunal has made its findings and we accept that," he said.

"We hold no ill will towards any of the teachers because they were just exercising their legal right."

But Mr Reye said the findings could impact on the way the church pays other minister-teachers across the country.

"We will now need to decide where we go with this - not just in NSW but across Australia, because we operate on a national pay scale within our system," he said.

"This ruling is going to mean we are going to have to rethink how we do all that." Source =,5478,5224644%255E1702,00.html