Following the election of a new Federal Government on 21 May, Australian workers and their unions, including the IEU, are hopeful of changes that will bring fairer and safer workplaces, as well as a greater commitment to a more socially just and inclusive society.
Some of the hoped-for changes include:
- The Fair Work Commission on 16 May made an in-principle decision in support of 10 days' paid family and domestic violence leave in modern awards, literally a lifesaving right for many women. Labor has committed to adding this leave to the National Employment Standards so that it can be accessed if needed by all workers, including IEU members in independent schools and in the early childhood sector.
- Pay equity is a major priority of the IEU, especially for members who work in the early childhood sector and for school support staff where pay inequities unfortunately continue. The current federal industrial laws make pay equity cases very time consuming and difficult, as the IEU experienced when conducting its Equal Remuneration Order case in the Fair Work Commission. Labor took a policy to the election for the establishment of a statutory equal remuneration principle to guide the Fair Work Commission and for a new Care and Community Sector Expert Panel and a Pay Equity Expert Panel to strengthen the Commission’s expertise on gender pay equity and care sector work.
- Every worker should be safe at work and free from sexual harassment. The new Federal Government has committed to implementing all 55 recommendations of the Respect@Work Report. The IEU and other unions will continue campaigning to make sure women have safety, respect and equity at work.
- Enhancing access and affordability for early childhood education is a stated priority of the incoming government and the IEU hopes that there will be consultation with our union to ensure this important commitment also includes appropriate recognition and remuneration of teachers in the early childhood sector.
- The IEU strongly supports the Uluru Statement from the Heart and looks forward to working with the incoming government to ensure First Nations people have lasting constitutional rights to a Voice to Parliament.
IEU members also seek recognition as the voice of the education profession, a voice that was often ignored and sidelined under the previous government.
This all too often resulted in education policies being developed that do not support or reflect the realities of work in schools and early learning centres.
As expressed in the current Catholic sector Hear Our Voice campaign, respect is at the heart of the union’s claim. The IEU hopes the new government will bring greater respect for our profession and new hope and opportunity for Australian workers, their families and communities.