The Age reports that Melbourne's Catholic education chiefs are being urged to accommodate teachers wanting extra paternity leave and breastfeeding rooms for new mothers who have returned to the classroom.
The Catholic teachers' union is pushing for schools to have special rooms and designated times so that teachers who are breastfeeding can express and store milk during working hours.
And in an ambitious move, teachers want maximum caps on class sizes across every year level, as well as a reduction in the number of scheduled classroom hours they work, the paper says.
Union documents obtained by The Age show Catholic school teachers are preparing to use this year's enterprise bargaining round to push for higher wages and for working conditions they hope will bring them more into line with teachers in the state's public schools.
In addition to breastfeeding rooms and an increase in parental leave, the union wants class sizes capped at a maximum of 23 students in years prep to two; 26 students in years three to six and 24 students in VCE.
Senior Catholic officials concede that class sizes are a particular problem for their sector, which has not been able to devote the same kind of money to reducing sizes as the Bracks Government has in state schools.
This year, average class sizes in public schools hit a record low of 20.7 students in prep to grade 2.
In Catholic schools, classes have an average of 22.4 students, and many are forced to study in cramped classrooms of 30 students.
Catholic Education Office assistant director Vin McPhee said employers would negotiate a new deal with teachers "in good faith", that they hoped would be in line with public schools.
Catholic chiefs push for family friendlier schools (The Age, 13/6/07)
LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Melbourne Catholic Education Office
Catholic Education Commission of Victoria Ltd
Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne
Victorian Independent Education Union
Melbourne priest slams year end Catholic Ed appointment (CathNews, 22/12/06)
Resignation ignites controversy over Catholic Education shake-up (CathNews, 19/9/06)
Catholic Welfare warns on maternity allowance (CathNews, 20/4/05)
Catholic call for ' family friendly workplaces' (CathNews, 6/6/01)
12 Jun 2007