Clipboard kickstarts conversation

I would say doing this basic groundwork is pretty important and an easy way to increase membership.

Paperwork has proven to be an effective union recruitment tool for new Rep Jenny Allen.

The St Carthage’s Primary School Lismore teacher took on the role of Rep in 2014 after the “amazing people” who had been doing it for some years retired.

St Carthage’s is a big school with 650 students and three people share the Rep’s role.

Jenny said sharing the role allowed her to “ease into it”.

“I started just pinning things to boards. When the enterprise agreeement negotiations began I got more involved.”

The Union advocated for Jenny back in the 90s after she had been employed as a casual for five years.

“The Union and the Chapter helped me become a permanent employee. It became standard across the Lismore Diocese that employment contracts stated who you were replacing.

“I really saw the power of a united voice and the support from the Union then.”

The three Reps at Jenny’s school split the job up simply by doing the bits they enjoy.

Jenny is happy to attend meetings, take minutes and provide administrative back up. At the beginning of the year she goes around with the school with a clipboard to update everyone’s membership details.

“I just wanted to make sure we had their correct address and email details so they would receive Union correspondence.

“As I approached people I noted who was not on my list. I asked them if they were a member. It sparked some some keen interest about union membership, from new staff but also some long term people.

’I handed out a few membership forms to people who hadn’t joined before.

“I did it during the break over a cup of tea and didn’t approach anyone in the lunchroom who looked like they really need a break.

“It started a conversation on all the tables and it was a real reminder to people about the Union.”

Jenny said some people approached her after she had been around the lunch room to discuss union issues with her, asking about things that could be raised at Chapter meetings.

“After I’d been around, I think conversations started happening between groups about the Union without me being there.

“The EA negotiations certainly reminded people that things like maternity leave and relief from face to face teaching had been fought for by the Union, and that conversation is continuing.

“I would say doing this basic groundwork is pretty important and an easy way to increase IEU membership.”

Sue Osborne