Present tense

Join your union

Many of you probably work in colleges with low Union membership – you may well be the only Union member at your workplace. This is a big part of the reason why working conditions in the sector are so poor – there is always someone else who will work for less than what you want. The only way to change that equation is to get organised – encourage your colleagues to join and contact your Union to arrange a chapter visit.

There are many benefits to IEU membership, such as ready access to advice, industrial assistance, and protection from capricious employers, as well as consumer discounts, and the feeling of belonging to something bigger than yourself. Your Union also regularly contributes to award reviews and industry forums, seeking to improve the working life of those in the industry.

New members can join over the phone (8202 8900), via email ( or online (, and Union fees are tax deductible. Talk to your colleagues today and get them to join their Union!


One practical benefit of high and active union membership is the ability to push for enterprise agreements (EAs). EAs typically provide superior salaries and conditions to those in the modern award, and the Fair Work Act includes provisions for ‘good faith bargaining’, under which an employer can be forced to negotiate where it can be demonstrated that a majority of the staff (or section of staff, such as teachers) want them to. To find out how that might work at your college, contact your Union.

In recent months, your Union has been very active negotiating at several colleges, including Navitas English, Embassy English, Sydney College of English, Access Language Centre, Insearch, UoW College, and UNSW Global. Some of these negotiations are reaching the ‘pointy end’, and it is hoped that there will be agreed settlements in the near future.


In the first half of 2019, voters in NSW will go to the polls for elections for both the NSW and federal parliaments. Although the IEU is not affiliated to any political party, IEU members have a lot riding on both elections.

In NSW, the eight year old Coalition Government (now on to its third leader in that time) will face the voters on Saturday, 23 March. While this government does have some achievements to its name, we should not forget the drastic cuts they made to workers’ compensation laws, and the 2.5% salary cap it has placed on its own workers, which has flowed through to all areas of the economy, including ELICOS. Polls suggest a close election, though recent leadership changes in the Labor Party may yet move the needle one way or the other.

Federally, the Coalition Government is clearly in a huge mess, and polls have consistently pointed to a heavy defeat. The chaos that has engulfed Canberra over recent years shows no sign of dissipating, though the federal opposition has maintained stability, and seem the safer choice at this stage. Furthermore, Labor has promised a large review of TAFE and the post secondary sector generally, which is well overdue, and may lead to some beneficial changes in this sector.

There is no fixed date for the federal election, but the timetable for the Senate means that a half-senate poll must be held by mid May. My money is on ‘Star Wars Day’, May 4 2019. However you intend to vote, ensure that your enrolment is up to date so you can have your say.

This will be the final Present Tense for 2018 – we hope you have found this column interesting. We wish you all the best for the festive season and the summer ahead. See you again in 2019!

Kendall Warren