Campaign for fairness in Catholic schools wins top national award

Our Union has been awarded the 2018 ACTU Congress Campaign of the Year Award for its battle for fairness in Catholic schools.

Teachers and support staff in Catholic schools showed great determination, keeping up an 18-month resistance to Catholic employers across NSW and the ACT who were determined to take away their right to arbitration by the Fair Work Commission.

“This award is a tribute to the bravery and strength of character of our membership and staff, who were determined to fix broken industrial rules for the benefit of current and future employees” John Quessy, Secretary IEUA NSW/ACT Branch said.

The campaign was complex, involving 11 different dioceses, postal ballots and other roadblocks thrown up by the employer, highlighting weaknesses in the Fair Work Act.

The IEU had to motivate and communicate complicated messages to members all over NSW and the ACT, including remote areas.

In recommending the IEU for the award, Unions NSW Secretary Mark Morey said: “The IEUA NSW/ACT Branch showed outstanding imagination and tenacity during its campaign, which also made a significant contribution to the Change the Rules campaign. The IEU grew the resolve of existing members while recruiting thousands of new members during their campaign”.

Our Union employed novel techniques such as live video streaming and social media to great effect, as well as traditional media and on the ground footwork by its officers and reps. Despite already winning a modest pay rise part way through the campaign, teachers and support staff participated enthusiastically in two stop work actions; rallies small and large were held in every corner of the state and territory.

The end result was a resounding victory, with 98% of members voting in favour of the Union endorsed enterprise agreement, and thousands of new members recruited to the IEUA NSW/ACT Branch.

“This campaign showed that worker power can win through and proved that if unions can muster the strength of their membership, they can bring about effective change and ensure better fairness and justice for all workers, now and in the future,” Quessy said.

In presenting the award, ACTU judges noted the campaign was flexible and responsive to the needs of members and engaged them at all levels.

“The IEU is now involved in a campaign to win fair pay for early childhood teachers, and we intend to win that one too,” Quessy said.

The award was presented before an audience of over 1200 by newly elected ACTU President Michelle O’Neill and Secretary Sally McManus at the Brisbane Convention Centre on 17 July.