After 16 years as an IEU Rep and with 99% Union membership at her school, Nada Farrell has a few tips to pass on.
The teacher librarian at St Joseph’s Primary School Kilaben Bay in the Hunter region is retiring from the profession after 35 years, although she may pick up a few casual hours.
Nada decided to become the IEU Rep because of a long term interest in industrial issues and people’s rights,
“I came from a migrant background, and equity was important to our family, so that may have influenced me,” she said.
“Over the years there’s been a change in how aware people are of their rights and how willing they are to speak up.
“I can only speak for my school of course. That’s been the case in the last few years during the industrial dispute. The Union seems to be much more visible.
“There’s been a shift in the way people think and the way they expect to be treated.”
Acknowledging that chapter meetings often focus on teacher issues, Nada also has informal meetings with support staff or speaks to them on an individual basis.
“Recently one person said they were sorry to see me go, because I had spoken out on support staff’s rights.
“The support staff can see the Union is there for them now, whereas in the past there was a perception that it was a teachers’ group.”
Nada said a Union Rep must be prepared to stand up and speak out, without too much concern for the consequences.
They must be able to communicate well with their colleagues, be available to listen and be prepared to make a decision about what further action needs to be taken – should the issue go to the Union; should there be a chapter meeting etc.
Nada said her experience as a Union Rep had helped her in life in general.
“It helps you to question and clarify things and come up with a course of action, rather than just muddling around.”
Nada thanked the staff at the Newcastle branch of the Union for providing her with invaluable support over the years.