From the VP: We're all in this together

Last month, for the first time in its history, the ACTU elected a woman as its Secretary. The election of Sally McManus as Secretary to work alongside Ged Kearney as President (pictured) is historic, and both a practical and symbolic demonstration of the ongoing changing face of unionism in Australia.

Across the country, there are now more female union members than male. A unionist is more likely to work in the public education, healthcare or social assistance sectors than in, for example, construction or mining.

The largest group of union members is aged over 50, and all of this means that our Union is reflective of the greater movement.

The QTU is big and growing. It cannot be underestimated how powerful it is that there is a Queensland Teachers’ Union member in just about every community in the state.

Community respect and regard for you, your profession and your Union means that you are well placed to have conversations with others about the impacts of proposed government policies and the importance of a strong and vibrant public education system. 

Despite the changes we’ve seen - devolution and decentralisation, issues with the transfer and relocation process, often starting your career on contract rather than in a permanent job, IPS or not – QTU members remain part of a system. And union members, connected, wherever they are, beyond clusters and regions and contexts, are the foundation to that system and the “systemness” that goes with it.

There are artefacts that point to our “systemness”. Artefacts can be physical; the school signs and buildings and furniture that look similar across the state, or the QTU noticeboards in schools. They can be communication activities; messages from the Director-General, QTU Newsflashes and the QTU Journal. Or they can be events; such as the DET Principals' Conference and the QTU Biennial Conference.

Importantly, we also have the single points of truth that demonstrate the system’s expectations. These include the award and certified agreement, the QTU/DET joint statements, the P-12 Curriculum Framework, and the QTU guides to consultation in the workplace and the implementation of the EBA.

The benefit of being a part of a system and part of a large and well-organised union is the capacity to participate in consultation and influence the direction of policies that will impact on the way we do our work and the way the system operates.

QTU members all play a vital role in such consultation, whether it be at the local, regional or statewide level. Unlike the previous Queensland Government, this government understands that consulting with the QTU is to consult with more than 40,000 professionals across more than 1,200 workplaces, in positions from beginning teacher to executive principal.

We are united across the system by our membership of the QTU. We are at our best when we are informed, empowered and motivated. This is where the industrial meets the professional.

A strong and united union membership is the foundation of a strong and united teaching profession. The QTU is key to defending and maintaining the system so that, regardless of where we are in the state, our well-used mantra that “state schools are great schools” remains true.

Best wishes and solidarity for Labour Day!

Sam Pidgeon                                                                                                                     Vice-President

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 122 No 3, 14 April 2017, p9