Don't trade with our days

We don’t want to work for free – we want to work the days we are paid for.

The Union’s win in the ACT shows IEU members are not prepared to do deals with their days of work.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn had decided to reorganise their school year out of step with ACT government schools, asking Catholic teachers to work on 24 April, when government and NSW schools were not.

IEU took this dispute to the Fair Work Commission and at the hearing the Catholic Commission for Employment Relations (CCER), representing the Archdiocese, indicated that it would challenge the power of the Fair Work Commission to arbitrate the dispute, unless it agreed to such arbitration.

The Union won the day, and the Archdiocese backed down, agreeing that 24 April remain part of the school holiday.

St Thomas the Apostle teacher and long time Rep Leah Godfrey said the Union now needed to make sure this was stated in ‘black and white’ in the enterprise agreement in the next round of negotiations.

“When our organiser came and spoke to our chapter about this, she raised the future implications of trading our days away and this was not something the chapter was happy with,” Leah said.

“After that the chapter unanimously rejected the idea of working on 24 April and getting a day off at the end of the year. We will not negotiate on days.”

Leah said the chapter was united and passed on a message to the Union through its organisers to fight the proposal.

“I think this issue highlighted something many people had not thought about before. We don’t want to work for free – we want to work the days we are paid for. I think some people might think about joining the Union because of this.”

Canberra teacher Anne Leet said the employer’s move was “shameful”. She said she has dedicated many years to encouraging employers to listen to the “little people”.

She’s attended IEU Council for more than seven years, been Secretary of the Monaro Branch and her school’s Rep for about 10 years and a Union member since 1987.

The Mother Teresa Catholic Primary School, Harrison, ACT, Religious Education Coordinator said she is passionate about social justice.

“I think being in the Union is the best way to ensure everyone has a voice, including new teachers just coming into the profession.

“Everyone should be listened to equally and treated as if all were on the same level.”

Anne said the dispute was the ultimate case of ‘not listening’ and the CCER was not thinking of teachers and their ability to spend time with their families.

“All we want is recognition for the tireless efforts of these dedicated professionals and the invaluable service they provide. We are not seeking accolades or rewards but acknowledgement and respect.

“They talk a lot about service, but they are not serving their employees. The CCER needs to think of others and make the needs their employees their priority.” Anne said.