IEU Rep Sharon Geyer has left a lasting legacy at Northside Montessori School, Pymble. Sharon worked at the school for about three years as a teaching assistant, helping in the classroom with student learning and students with a disability.
She was the IEU rep for teachers and support staff during her final year at the school in 2016.
Teaching assistants at the school were expected to attend end of year productions and graduation ceremonies in the evening without pay.
“We always knew it was wrong but didn’t have the courage to act on it,” Sharon said.
“But then I realised that if we took any time off, even an hour, it was docked from our pay,” she said.
She organised a chapter meeting for the school, which had to be held offsite.
“Speaking to our Union organiser, I realised we had rights. Being part of the Union made it so much easier for us to know what to do and how to do it.”
Sharon collected information from all the teaching assistants on what unpaid hours they had worked at the end of year events and the Union compiled a letter on their behalf and sent it to school management.
‘It was a very long time before we got a response, and they said we would be paid in the next pay cycle. It ended up being four or five pays before we got the money.”
The five teaching assistants received more than $2000 collectively in back pay for all the unpaid events they had attended between 2011-2016.
“Joining the Union was the best thing I ever did,” Sharon said.
“It has bought massive changes to the school.”
Although Sharon has since resigned and is now studying to be a teacher, she said the school’s IEU members now know they have the right to have a Union representative accompany them in meetings with management.
“It’s a low amount of money to pay the Union for the amount of support you get in return,” she said.