About 350 teachers and support staff, friends and representatives of other unions joined the IEU's Canberra rally at Thoroughbred Park.

Although many schools had declared a pupil-free day for professional learning, all but one ACT school was represented.

Many principals had advised parents there would be minimal supervision and asked them to make alternative arrangements for their children for the day.

From the NSW side of the Canberra-Goulburn Archdiocese the rally welcomed members from St Bede’s Braidwood, St Gregory’s Queanbeyan, St Joseph’s Bombala, and Mount Carmel Yass. (Members from St Mary’s Batlow and St Joseph’s Adelong attended rallies closer to them.)

Kate McDonald from St John the Apostle Florey donned a range of costumes, including Super Woman, to lead the chants. Accompanied by drums, maracas, tambourines and cowbells, Kate took up the familiar 1980s movie tune Ghostbusters:“Who you gonna’ call? Support staff!”

For teachers, she led with “We are keepers, show respect! Soon there will be no one left! Who should teach our students now? Well-paid teachers, who know how!”

Members from St Thomas Apostle Charnwood were particularly enthusiastic chanters.

Debra Slack from St Francis Xavier Florey spoke about the frustration support staff experience from working in “understaffed and underresourced” schools.

IEU Vice President ACT (and teacher at St Thomas Aquinas Charnwood) Angela McDonald’s invocations, with the response “Hear our voice!”, sounded like a litany.

Daniel Burns from John Paul College Nicholls listed all the reasons a decent pay rise and reduced workloads are essential.

IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Deputy Secretary Carol Matthews (pictured top right, with Lachlan Clohesy, ACT Division Secretary of the National Tertiary Education Union) brought the rally up to speed on bargaining negotiations for the new enterprise agreement.

Solidarity means standing together to respect the work and rights of all union members and workers. The rally welcomed representatives from UnionsACT, the Australian Education Union, the Community and Public Sector Union, United Workers Union, Electrical Trades Union, Plumbers Union, the National Tertiary Education Union and the Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union, who all waved banners in support of the IEU.

“We have a vested interest in your success,” said Patrick Judge, ACT Branch Secretary of the Australian Education Union. “The better you do, the easier it will be for us.”

Berna Simpson