IEU reps: Who they are, what they do

Whether you’re already a rep, or you’re considering becoming one, or you’d just like to know more, hear all about it from an experienced hand.

The group of IEU members at each school (known as a chapter) elects a union representative (or rep, sometimes called a delegate in legislation). Some schools have more than one rep: one for teachers, and one for support, administrative and operational staff.

The rep arranges chapter meetings, keeps members informed of union campaigns and negotiations and liaises with your union organiser. They are the first port of call for IEU members in the workplace.

Reps provide members with advice and information, and they help members with individual matters as a support person, directing them to their organiser (in the IEU office) when necessary.

The union provides training for reps (see below and We invite all reps and chapter committee members to come and learn about your rights and responsibilities at work and to develop your union skills. IEU officers provide ongoing support for reps.

An effective rep listens to members’ concerns and suggests practical solutions. It is useful for reps to have a working knowledge of the key features of the enterprise agreement covering members at their school, and to be able to direct members to that agreement.

Good reps also establish clear channels of communication with the school leadership to avert potential issues or prevent them from escalating.

Reps are not expected ‘be’ the union at their workplace. The union is the members collectively – not some other group with magical powers. All members can support their rep.

The most rewarding part of being a rep is when members come and thank you for offering them a listening ear, providing advice that led to a workable outcome or advocating on their behalf when they were having difficulty finding their voice.

Growing your chapter is crucial – there is real strength in numbers, and it is every member’s responsibility to recruit new members. Strong chapters are essential to maintaining a safe and balanced working life at your school.

Keep union literature visible on the noticeboard and in the staffroom (including copies of Newsmonth), engage in conversations, keep members and potential members up to date on union negotiations with employers to improve your pay and conditions and, of course, encourage staff to join. Strong numbers are a key indicator of campaign success.

We urge all members to check in with their rep – a little support goes a long way. And if your chapter doesn’t have a rep, why not consider taking this on? Contact your organiser to find out more or call the union on 8202 8900 and ask for the Duty Officer.

Glenn Lowe
IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Deputy President and teacher at St Joseph’s Catholic High School Albion Park