The IEU’s recent Activist Conference provided support and inspiration for budding and experienced unionists.
Christina Ellul of Good Shepherd Primary School in Plumpton would fit the latter category.
She’s been a union rep almost as long as she’s been a teacher, 15 years at her current school and for a few years on and off at a previous school.
That doesn’t mean she isn’t open to new learning, and the conference provided her with some tips for her biggest challenge: encouraging others to take up the Rep’s mantle.
“One day I will move on, and I don’t like the thought of there not being a ‘go to’ person to replace me,” Christina said.
Coming from a family background of migrants who worked hard and struggled against poor working conditions, Christina said she’s always wanted to make sure people were treated fairly.
She first joined a union committee where she learnt from a very experienced rep, but gradually people dropped off and she became a committee of one.
“I would hate to think people didn’t feel they had a safe place to turn to. And if we don’t remain vigilant, we will lose the entitlements we have fought so hard for.”
Learning about the history of unionism and how current conditions have been achieved at the conference is something Christina plans to take back to her school to share with other members.
“I want to learn how to encourage people to be involved in something bigger than themselves, that’s what I really want the Union’s support for.”
Christina said hearing about the journeys of new IEU Organiser Lubna Haddad and James Jenkins-Flint, and how they had come to their positions, was “powerful”.
“Understanding history, communicating it to the members so they can become advocates themselves, that is what I am working towards.”