More than 80 Navitas English staff gathered at Unions NSW Trades Hall for a stop work meeting on 2 December.
Staff were angry about stalled negotiations between the IEU and Navitas management.
IEU Organiser Kendall Warren told the gathering that despite fortnightly meetings with employers and IEU Reps, the employers had not budged from their “ridiculous” 2% pay offer.
“We can only improve that by standing up and standing up again,” Warren said.
“It’s the lowest possible reading of the inflation rate you can possibly have..
“Your workload has increased, while Navitas has been asking you to trade off conditions.
“You’re doing lots of extras for free and teaching uniquely vulnerable students that really need your help.
“You needed to be properly rewarded for that.”
Angry teachers from the crowd said:
“Navitas don’t care about us. We want respect.”
“I’ve worked a long time for Navitas and it’s a very poor salary offer yet our workload has increased. I find it really insulting.”
“We’re meant to work seven hours, but we do eight hours or more with all the paperwork.”
As with most Union actions held by teachers, many said they were concerned about student welfare as much as their own wages and conditions.
Teachers’ comments included:
“You have classrooms with 30 students in them that are too small.”
“Students have to queue for half an hour because they have cut back administrative staff.”
“I have taught classes where there are seven different levels [of language ability] in one class.”
“It’s an educational centre not a supermarket.”
“There’s been an erosion of conditions but a huge increase in pointless paperwork.”
“We don’t have enough time for the students.”
Navitas English Teacher and IEU Rep Saied Khayam (pictured right) said the wage offer was equivalent to a cup of coffee a day.
“Maybe they think we need to drink coffee to stay awake to finish the paperwork,” he said.
Administration IEU Rep Daniel Laurence said administration staff were experiencing a pay freeze and could only get salary progression at “management discretion”, not after time served, as was the case with teachers.
Many had lost money due to reclassification and were doing the same job for less money, but with a greater workload.
IEU Secretary John Quessy said it was fantastic to see such a great turnout.
“You’re obliged to be here due to the inaction of Navitas,” Quessy said.
“You’ve been bargaining for more than 10 months, but the intransigence of your employer may not satisfy the requirements of the Fair Work Act in terms of bargaining in good faith.
“A measly 2% offer is outrageous. It grossly undervalues your work.
“The work you do is not only important for students, it’s vitally important for Australian society.
“You are at the absolute core of creating social cohesion. Language is what knits society together. You are absolutely at the forefront of doing that. You’re fundamental to building what we want in society.
“You spend a lot of time with vulnerable people and that takes an emotional toll which needs to be recognised as well.”
Navitas Auburn College student Soyoung Ka was involved in the union movement in Korea and said she had attended the meeting because of her support for unions.
“My teachers work hard and deserve fair pay.”
At the end of the meeting, the following resolution was passed:
“We, the staff of Navitas English, call upon our employer to listen to our concerns, and make a serious offer to increase our salaries and improve our conditions. We resolve to continue taking action until our reasonable demands are met.”