Passing the baton

An active Rep in a school is a valuable Union asset. But what happens when that Rep moves on? IEU Organiser Pat Devery looks at what schools are doing to ensure the smooth transition to a new Chapter Rep.

St Mary’s Catholic Primary North Sydney recently provided a textbook example of effective succession planning for their Chapter Rep.

“After the last campaign I just had the feeling I needed to pass on the baton,” long time IEU Rep Cathy McGuire said.

“I thought Anna possessed a number of qualities indicating she was more than ready to take on the role,” she said of newly elected Rep Anna Luedi.

Confidence, good people skills and an interest in the broader political landscape were attributes McGuire identified in Luedi.

“When growing up, strong female leaders such as Germany’s Angela Merkel influenced Anna’s political sensibilities.

It was refreshing to have a younger member of staff interested in current world events and keen to have political conversations in the staff room,” McGuire said.

Luedi attributes her Union activism to her father, “a very politically minded person” as well as the strong influence of having seen McGuire operate as an effective Chapter Rep.

‘My father was a Professor of Art Direction in Munich and fought strongly on intellectual property and copyright issues,” Luedi said.

Luedi said: “Cathy has also been a powerful influence, showing me how to be strong and brave in the workplace”.

It takes strength and courage to stand up for your rights. I try and instil in members the confidence to insist on their rights. That it’s okay to say, ‘I’m allowed this'.

McGuire, an insightful, well informed and experienced Rep, first came to the role at Sacred Heart Primary Mosman in the 1990s and has been Rep at St Mary’s North Sydney for the last 10 years.

“But you go through a campaign and you think, this shouldn’t be just up to me. The message also needs to come from a new generation.”

Having identified Luedi as a likely candidate, McGuire methodically went about inducting her into the role. Luedi was introduced to her then Union Organiser, Ann-Maree McEwan, whom McGuire describes as “knowledgeable and very engaging”.

After the Chapter elections McGuire brought Luedi along to the Northern Suburbs Branch meeting to introduce her to the other Chapter Reps in her area.

“It was good to see that I wasn’t going to be on my own,” Luedi said.

“I had everything to gain by getting involved, and we’ve all got everything to lose if we do nothing. So, I just thought, I’ve got this!”

Luedi, who is in her fourth year of teaching, said she sometimes struggles to figure out what she should be doing, but asking questions and feeling comfortable with not having all the answers is the key.

“It takes strength and courage to stand up for your rights,” Luedi said.

“I try and instil in members the confidence to insist on their rights. That it’s okay to say, ‘I’m allowed this’.”

“Young staff are very sluggish at joining, but we saw from the recent campaign that, if density drops, the employer will try it on.”

Luedi sees information as the key to being a strong and confident Union member. Referring to the recent confusion regarding the directive to take long service leave McGuire said: “We weren’t too bothered, really. The older members of staff were already well informed and knew their correct entitlements, so we didn’t even have to contact the Union”.

Luedi sees the next step as building a strong Union committee at the school. “These roles are a lot easier if everyone pitches in and helps.

“Having a Chapter committee to share the load will make it better and easier for us all. It will also ensure the next handover will be as smooth as mine was.”

If you are looking for assistance for a smooth Chapter Rep transition, contact your Organiser on 8202 8900. or toll free 1800 467 943.