Students flock to Union stall at EdFest

The annual EdFest held by Western Sydney University (WSU) was buzzing with enthusiastic students undertaking their tertiary studies in education.

The day attracted students from early childhood, primary and secondary education who were very keen to obtain as much information as possible about their careers and their rights at work.

IEU spoke to early childhood teachers about the industry, diversity of employers, and the variety of salaries that cover employees, with particular attention given to how much better paid teachers were when they enjoyed well protected entitlements in a unionised workplace covered by an enterprise agreement. The Union’s pay parity case for early childhood teachers was also highlighted.

Primary and secondary students learnt about the diversity in non government schools, and the variety of salaries and conditions depending on the enterprise agreement that covers a particular workplace.

The students were astonished that starting salary scales in unionised schools were $20,000 higher than workplaces without a Union EA in place, where only the basic National Employment Standard was met.

Organisers highlighted the need to be a Union member, especially new teachers who may be experiencing difficulty in their schools, and who may have limited knowledge of their entitlements, such as personal or maternity leave, assigned breaks, release time, class sizes, the processes of accreditation or time allocated for mentoring.

Having a Union organiser allows new teachers to gain correct information about their workplaces, and organisers often play a pivotal role in taking the awkwardness out of having conversations with deputies or principals about rights and obligations.

The day was a huge success with organisers answering a myriad of questions from curious and excited students. It was particularly insightful to gauge how much education students knew of their industry and their rights at work; we hope that the day empowered students and provided essential guidance as they embark on teaching tomorrow’s generation.

Lubna Haddad