Jeff Pratt became an IEU organiser in April and he’s gearing up to cover primary schools, secondary schools and early learning centres in Western Sydney and from Penrith to the Blue Mountains.
Jeff began his working life as a boilermaker. He went on to teach manual arts in Queensland state schools before joining Mount St Patrick College in Murwillumbah where he taught Technology and Applied Studies, including industrial technology and design, for 18 years. The union representative there took Jeff to a State Council meeting, and he was immediately hooked. Jeff subsequently became the union rep at the school for 16 years and a member of the IEUA NSW/ACT Council for 17 years.
Jeff eventually headed south to Sydney to teach at Marist College North Shore and St Andrew’s Cathedral School. He has been a member of the IEUA NSW/ACT Executive for more than three years.
Coming from a long line of unionists, Jeff has found his groove. “My great, great grandfather was on the eight hour day committee representing the Bundaberg Foundry, my great uncle was a branch councillor for the Postal and Telecommunications Union in Brisbane and my father was a shop steward in the Electrical Trades Union in Brisbane,” Jeff said “Discussions around the table about unions, the Labor Party and workers’ rights always resonated with me.”
Making a difference in people’s lives is another reason Jeff is drawn to union work. “Giving working people a voice and respect in the workplace is crucial,” he said. “The progressive nature of unions means we move with the times yet maintain core values of fairness at work.”
Jeff is keen to learn about the workplaces and their communities throughout his organising area. “I am looking forward to developing a relationship with and working with all of the different teachers and support staff of my schools,” he said. “I enjoy my daily interaction with dedicated teachers and support staff and I’m learning how to work through the industrial frameworks that cover our teachers and support staff.”
Jeff would like to see teachers given the time they need to perform their jobs, a decrease in their excessive workloads and a reduction of ever-increasing compliance demands.
An early morning surf is Jeff’s favourite way to start the day and coffee is his beverage du jour followed by “a steak sanga” at lunch. Off-duty he enjoys the occasional glass of wine and a beer or two watching a game of Rugby League. One of his favourite books is Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts (2003). During the coronavirus lockdown he rewatched the epic science fiction flick Avatar (2009) and binged the Netflix series Peaky Blinders.