IEU member Janene Rox, a preschool director from the southern suburbs, accompanied by IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Organiser Tina Smith, attended the event in Canberra and told their story to nine different parliamentarians.
Janene and Tina joined representatives from nursing, aged care, transport and others who spoke about the problems they face in bargaining for better conditions.
Shutdown: IEU supports day of action
The IEU supports the shutdown by members of the United Workers Union on 7 September. Some members have asked why the IEU is not participating.
IEU Deputy Secretary Carol Matthews says: “IEU members who wish to participate in the UWU day of action may do so. The IEU strongly supports improved wages and conditions for early childhood teachers and educators. We have constantly raised this issue in our Teachers are Teachers campaign, by lobbying government and through numerous submissions to various government inquiries and working parties.
“We pursued a long-running equal remuneration and work value case in the Fair Work Commission for improvements in the Modern Award applying to early childhood teachers nationally.
“This resulted in increases for most teachers of around 5% to 10% (the union had claimed more) with additional large increases in allowances. We are constantly negotiating enterprise agreements for members in individual preschools and long day care centres.
“Many of these union-negotiated agreements now contain pay rates for teachers close to or the same as pay rates for teachers in schools. These agreements can only be achieved with significant member support at the centre.
“The union has called strikes of members in Catholic schools. Such strikes are only possible as protected action if they are conducted according to the strict rules applying under the Fair Work Act and in support of claims for an enterprise agreement. Members are not paid for the time they stop work. Staff who are absent from work without their employer’s approval and not in accordance with these legal rules would be taking unprotected action and this could result in fines.”
IEU Early Childhood Services Vice President Gabrielle Connell explains:
“I have been the early childhood rep on the IEU Executive for close on 13 years. I have been involved in campaign after campaign as the IEU fought for better wages and conditions for early childhood teachers. I have been a witness at two wage cases where the IEU fought for better wages in the Fair Work Commission. We have won large wage increases.
“The IEU has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on these cases – far more than the membership fees from our sector. The union has represented us on every forum possible and fought for better funding for our sector.
“There are more than 8000 early childhood teachers in NSW but only 1100 are IEU members yet the IEU still fights for you all. We are stronger when we have more members.
“All early childhood teachers benefit from this whether they are members or not. Early childhood members of the IEU have free membership of the Teacher Learning Network where they can do all their accredited PD for no cost. The IEU protects early childhood teachers in NSW. We support the day of action.”