Your safety is our highest priority

The wellbeing of our members is the chief concern as schools move to a hybrid model of education delivery in the third week of Term 2. The hours of work undertaken so far to achieve online learning should not be forgotten.

The dual model of online and a rostered school-based approach will entail a significant workload. Predicting attendance patterns, covering staff who cannot be present and ensuring safe distancing and hygiene in a school environment is complex. What do schools require?

  • staff-student ratios of 1:10
  • contactless thermometers
  • personal protective equipment – as appropriate
  • additional cleaning throughout the day
  • hand sanitiser in all classrooms.

Teachers and support staff are owed a debt of gratitude by the wider community. The notion that teachers were “childminding” in the latter stage of Term 1 was promulgated by the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison. The union rejects this view.

Historically, it is most unusual for a Prime Minister to address teachers and implore a return to 'teaching'. But teaching had not stopped – teaching methods were altered through much work by the profession. The courtesy of meeting with the unions representing teachers was, however, overlooked.

The IEU is set to survey members to ensure we have a comprehensive understanding of what measures and strategies your workplace has adopted to manage the pandemic. At the local level, shortcomings in relation to social distancing and supplies of hand sanitiser and PPE will be challenged through chapter action.

To borrow a phrase: teachers are pedalling as fast as they can. Let’s trust the necessary support will be forthcoming.

Catholic systemic enterprise agreement on hold

The IEU met with the Catholic Commission for Employment Relations and the Directors of the Sydney and Parramatta Dioceses on 16 April. The union sought an interim pay increase of 2.5 per cent with bargaining in relation to conditions to recommence at a later date.
The employers rejected this proposal on financial grounds at this time. The parties will reconvene in week seven of Term 2. Teachers and support staff should rightly expect that their role as essential workers during the pandemic is recognised and pay parity retained. It’s not a big ask.
Mark Northam