On 8 June 2016, IEU and the New Zealand education union NZEI TE RIU ROA joined together to celebrate the valuable work performed by education support staff in our schools.
The IEU was eager to participate in this inaugural event that highlights the contribution of support staff to quality education. The Union is committed to building on this initiative in the years to come.
The International Education Support Staff Day was endorsed at the seventh Education International (EI) World Congress held in Canada last year. Education support staff across the world experience significant challenges relating to job security and working conditions.
Poor pay, casualisation and a lack of professional development and recognition are global issues. EI resolved to improve the welfare and status of education employees “through the effective application of their human and trade union rights and professional freedoms”.
In our schools, education support staff encompass a growing number of careers including those who work as administrators, school assistants, business managers, boarding house staff, lab assistants canteen and uniform workers and office staff and diverse other roles. Nurses and counsellors play critical roles in their direct support of students, as do specialist school assistants and Aboriginal education workers. Cleaning and outdoor maintenance also are necessary roles in ensuring the safety and effective management of the school environment.
A collective voice through strong union density is needed in our ongoing campaign to improve salaries, job security and working conditions for all those employed in education communities. While IEU membership continues to grow among support staff, there are significant variations in Union membership from school to school. We ask IEU reps and members to actively engage with all categories of school staff and encourage them to join the union. It is a key responsibility of the Union to recognise the contribution of support staff and to identify and respond to issues impacting on their work.