Teachers and support staff stepped up this year

As the year draws to an end, with the summer holidays on the horizon, I am reminded what a tumultuous year it has been. Industrially, dealing with the Catholic employers has been challenging. Their tendency to hide behind COVID-19 and the constant delay of meetings has bordered on a lack of good faith.

It took all year to finalise an award that ran out a year ago and the new one will last only one year. This means we have to jump into new negotiations quickly.

COVID-19 has again proven that Catholic schools’ best asset are teachers and support staff. During the crisis, teachers and support staff stepped up to addressing the needs of their students and often their families. This usually meant that education structures and delivery was completely redesigned and reorganised. Teachers and schools adapted to the needs of their students with a positive and can-do attitude. Despite the difficulties we made it work.

In the background, employers were doing everything in their kit bag to slow down any sort of award being brought to completion. Those of us at the chalk face began to feel devalued and used by the people who should have been going out of their way to make us feel strong and empowered. It was a disappointing display of lack of respect for the employees in all schools. Despite this, IEU members prevailed and the agreement was finalised.

The year of 2020 demonstrated several things for me as a teacher in a systemic school: the staff in our schools are magnificent examples of the mission of Catholic schools and evangelisation while our employers continued to disappoint. Their actions often don’t match their words. The IEU is as strong as its members and I encourage you to invite those who do not belong to join.

Take a deep breath, we are nearly at the end, and I am looking forward to a sleep-in and the break. Wishing you a wonderful and restful holiday – however you choose to celebrate.