2017 Union Reps Conference

On Friday 10 March, the QTU hosted its largest ever Union Reps Conference at the Brisbane Exhibition and Convention Centre.

The conference, which has been held annually for almost 10 years, focused on providing Union Reps from across the state with skills to implement the new certified agreement and award, as well as celebrating the things the Union does.

The morning commenced with the annual International Women’s Day breakfast and the handing over of the Gonski Bus to New South Wales. Senator Claire Moore attended both events, reminding women to “Be Bold for Change”.

Throughout the day, members also heard from a number of speakers. QTU General Secretary Graham Moloney started the conference and focused on the QTU’s nine top priorities for 2017. The priorities include the implementation of the EB, the highly accomplished and lead teacher pilot, the review of promotion classifications, curriculum, permanency, workload, federal funding, the state election, and recruitment and retention.

He also led the conference in a rendition of Solidarity Forever. QTU President Kevin Bates spoke of the importance of Union Reps taking a lead in their workplace, while still being effective and well-respected teachers, and QTU Vice-President Sam Pidgeon reminded members that they are “what a unionist looks like”, and that it is not only permitted to assert their professional and industrial rights, but that it is expected that this is what unionists will do.

The keynote of the day was delivered by Dee Madigan. Dee is an award winning creative director with more than 20 years’ experience working in the industry. She has worked on campaigns for a number of big brands, such as HSBC and Diet Coke, as well as having extensive social marketing experience. Dee spoke to participants about the importance of communication and of marketing themselves. Members were reminded about their presence on social media and how that can contribute to the perception of themselves as teachers and teacher unionists. Following a range of questions it became evident that a number of participants had embraced these messages.

Arising from the speech delivered by Sam Pidgeon, participants were asked to contribute their thoughts on what made them proud to be QTU. A number of these contributions will be shared by the QTU.

The day included two workshops, both with the focus of getting “Back to Basics”. We cannot attempt to address workload unless we use the industrial instruments to ensure our conditions. Consequently, participants were taken through the consultation procedures for workplaces and the new award and certified agreement. TAFE representatives participated in TAFE-specific workshops with these same key themes.

Participants were also invited to ask questions of the five full-time senior officers in a question and answer panel session.

The conference finished as it had started, in song. QTU activist and musician Phil Monsour performed the Union conference song and Solidarity Forever.

Feedback from the conference has been positive, and the QTU is looking forward to hosting its first Regional Union Reps conference in August this year and making next year’s conference bigger and even better.

Kate Ruttiman                                                                                                                   Deputy General Secretary (Member Services)

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 122 No 3, 14 April 2017, p21