IEU Rep Toby Pemberton:

Happy members, happy kids

New IEU rep Toby Pemberton was able to impress his IEU organiser at his first ever chapter meeting, assembling a strong turn out and recruiting three young teachers.

Toby said giving the meeting lots of publicity and holding it in a high profile area like the staff room, had ensured a strong turnout, where everyone felt free to raise their concerns.

Toby took over as IEU rep just a few months ago at St Gertrude’s Primary School in Smithfield, where he’s been teaching Year 4 since 2016.

Mature influence

Previously he worked at St John Bosco Primary School Engadine, and he credits more mature staff at that school for imbuing him with a belief in unionism.

“They explained what had been fought for in previous years and why it was important to be informed and make sure that tradition continues,” Toby said.

“In order to shine teachers need the best working conditions, otherwise they get distracted by other issues. If teachers have the best conditions, then the kids win.”

Cost concerns

Toby said he was able to sign up the three beginning teachers by addressing their concerns about cost.

“Many young teachers think joining the union is going to be more expensive than it actually is. I showed them my payslip and explained the benefits, the support they get if there is any trouble, and they realised it was worthwhile.

“I also talked about the benefits of professional development and support provided free by the union for beginning teachers.

“There’s a bit of negativity out there about unions, but I think most people are glad to be in the union and glad it exists.”

St Gertrude’s has a high number of support staff who belong to the union, and that’s something Toby wants to continue, as support staff often face variable employment conditions.

He recommends all chapter reps hold their meetings in high profile areas and concentrate on publicising meetings and keeping the meetings open and friendly.

“In the future, the role of unions is going to become even more vital, as rights and conditions are eroded from cost cutting and funding cuts.

“People will realise how vital unions are on an even greater scale.”

Toby hopes the enterprise agreement negotiations for Catholic systemic schools proceed in the next few months without the roadblocks that accompanied the last two sets of negotiations.