Another term under the belt and by no means a cruisy start to the year. Term 1 brought renewed vigour, positive mindsets and achievable new year’s resolutions; to do things better.
Teachers and support staff have worked in synchronicity to ensure schools, as workplaces, function efficiently and professionally. The work performed front-of-school and behind-the-scenes is integral to the work performed in staffrooms and classrooms.
The interrelationships between support staff and teachers makes schools operable; without them, we could not carry out core work. In fact, as essential workers, we are the human machinery that makes society run.
To undervalue the work of support staff is to diminish their crucial role in the fluid running of schools. It is for this reason that support staff members in Catholic systemic schools warrant an increase in pay, if only to have parity with their colleagues in the state system.
The IEU is close to finalising a mechanism to secure well-deserved increases in the rates of pay for support staff. With dogged tenacity our union has not compromised on its commitment to make things better for support staff for this sector.
The Hear Our Voice campaign is making a real impact on fighting for improvements. Has it been protracted? Yes. Who hasn’t been listening? Well, that’s obvious! Could they be tardier? Recalcitrance comes to mind if I was writing areport card.
I can only be confident in the IEU that more improvements will come to fruition. In this same vein, the union is also in current negotiations with the employer to seek increases for support staff in Catholic independent schools. Watch this space.
As we begin Term 2, I remind early career teachers and the not-so-new to keep an eye on workload creep. With the strength of their union chapters, members should be reconsidering all those ‘asks’ or ‘initiatives’ that add to their teaching and learning loads. Are these extra ‘tasks’ pedagogically valid?
Are they practical and sound? Will they benefit me directly in the classroom? Will I be given time allowance? Time in lieu? Recompense?
If members feel that their workloads are becoming onerous and unmanageable, union chapters are good avenues of support. As chapters in schools, we can claim solidarity: “The simple idea that we are stronger when we stand united. The simple idea that workers can achieve amazing things” (Sally McManus). Ultimately, contact your union organiser for assistance and strategies to deal with workload issues in your school, to make things better.
Have a productive but manageable Term 2.