Proud of our voice

The combined voices of members in Catholic systemic schools attending rallies on 27 May is evidence that we will be heard. Our collective and individual voices are powerful, and we are proud to have our opinions, needs and priorities confidently stated.

It is an amazing experience to stand with, march with and chant with like-minded people.

Our experiences in classrooms across all systemic schools are valuable and must not be underestimated. The people who make the decisions about our working conditions enjoy a working environment that is unlike the reality of the education system we support.

Teachers and support staff are the backbone of the Catholic systemic education system; it is they who are there for the students, their parents and the community. We are the ones who make it work – not someone sitting in an office far away from the school.

They underestimate our capabilities.

They underestimate our determination.

They underestimate our anger.

They underestimate our voice.

Pope Francis said unions protect and defend the dignity of work and the rights of workers. We are here to defend the dignity of our work, to be duly compensated and to prove we are worth more.

Our employers do not adequately respect or value our profession. Our professionalism and skills are not valued. We are constantly being told how to do our job by people outside the profession. Everyone thinks they know what a kindergarten or English teacher does because they were in kinder or an English class some time in the past 50 years.

The red tape and administrative tasks have increased, taking up more and more time and brain space and there’s nothing to show for how they supposedly improve our teaching – just storage systems.

There have been multiple reviews of the NSW education system over the decades. In 2011, the NSW Liberal Government under Premier Barry O’Farrell stripped the NSW Industrial Relations Commission of its autonomy: it no longer had the power to award pay rises above the state government’s salary cap.

This effectively scrapped work-value cases and capped public sector teachers’ wages, to which salaries in the Catholic systemic sector are closely tied. Workload intensification is the biggest deterrent to attracting and keeping teachers in front of classes. The erosion of real wages has exacerbated the issue.

So, in this campaign, with the people standing beside you, we are here to speak out, call out, yell out. We are here to have the employers and government hear our voice. It is a strong voice. It is a loud voice. It is a voice in unison.

We will not go quietly!

We will not be silent!

Hear our voice!