Support staff at Green Valley Islamic College enjoyed their summer holiday a bit more than usual this year after they received large pay rises following Union intervention.
Membership among support staff at the school has dramatically increased thanks to the work of new and active IEU Rep Nevine Tita, and with increased membership has come increased understanding of their rights and abilities to seek an enterprise agreement with Union support. One support staff member said they had been aware something was wrong with their pay for some time, but their attempts to discuss it with school management had been fruitless.
“We had no back up, we talked about it but didn’t get a positive response,” another support staff member said.
The problem of low wages and lack of recognition had been going on for some years, support staff said.
“We worked hard and gave more than 100% but didn’t get anything back.”
Nevine said people had not been comfortable about speaking out, worried about job security.
“We didn’t have an awareness of what Union we were supposed to be in and if we could join,” the support staff member said.
“The Union was shocked to find out what our situation was.”
After some years of unsettled management, the school has now settled into a good leadership pattern and was open to listen to the Union’s approaches.
In 2017 support staff started to learn about the IEU and more became members. A series of meetings took place. There are now 19 support staff at the school, with 12 members of the IEU. This majority Union membership has facilitated the new agreement.
“We feel that without the Union backing us we could not have made this progress. We are also thankful to the school for being open and listening to us. They accepted everything the Union took to them, and pushed to get it all sorted out by the end of the year.”
Nevine said the process had been educational for both employees and employers.
“The executive said to me they wanted the support staff at the school to be happy and productive and asked me what to do,” Nevine said.
One member of the support staff said she felt lucky the process had been so positive for them, compared to the situation in Catholic systemic schools.
“Now we have sorted out the big one, that is, pay…we can start looking at other rights and conditions over time,” the support staff member said.
Nevine said she hoped to work on greater membership numbers now that she had such a great example of the benefits of Union membership to discuss with staff.