Organisations that have a high percentage of workers belonging to a union enjoy better pay and conditions.
To get the best work environment in your school or centre, you need to encourage your colleagues to join the IEU.
Often when there is a Rep in a school, members assume they don’t need to talk about the Union with their colleagues because the Rep’s doing it.
However, the Rep does not always have time to see everyone in a big school or may be tied up with a particular issue.
If you’ve got rapport with someone you work closely with, you may be the best person to talk to them about Union membership anyway, not the Rep.
Of course in early childhood settings it may be up to the teacher or director to talk to their colleagues about joining the Union.
Whenever anyone starts at your school or centre, whether they’re moving from another place or new to the profession, it’s worthwhile having a chat and seeing if they’re in the Union.
This can be done in a light, friendly, positive way over morning tea or lunch perhaps, talking about the benefits of belonging to the IEU. It doesn’t have to be strident or dogmatic.
For school teachers, it’s crucial that you don’t forget to include support staff in your discussions. And it’s really good if support staff can talk to their colleagues, indoor and outdoor, about joining.
You could point out how the Union will give them a voice in the workplace. If membership fees are a barrier, explain that it’s an investment in their personal wellbeing as well as the profession.
It’s like insurance, always there for advice and support or even legal help if necessary. You never know when you might need confidential support.
The children benefit from a strong union membership as well, as the Union strives to maintain high standards in schools and centres.
Have a chat with colleagues about all the different things Union membership can provide. Show them the publications and website.
The Union’s professional development is invaluable for attaining and maintaining accreditation, and there are conferences and courses aimed at support staff.
The range of professional development offered is surprisingly varied, including dealing with difficult people, social media, women’s issues, environmental sustainability, Aboriginal issues as well as teaching and learning.
Explain how the Union has a team of lawyers on hand should members require them and how much this would cost if a non-member needed legal help with a workplace issue. The Union also has the power to lobby the employers and government on issues that affect the profession. If you’re a member, you can have a say.
Don’t forget to put the IEU calendar which you received with this issue of Newsmonth up in the staff room or on the noticeboard.
Put Union publications, leaflets and other information on tables where they’re easy to see.
And finally, it’s that time of year when people are moving around a lot. So don’t forget to update your contact details on the Union’s website. It only takes a minute and ensures we can send you the most up to date information throughout the year.
Remember, the Union can only be strong and represent you well if it has strong membership.