From the VP: We're proud to be QTU - are you?

In January, clearly with not much else of importance happening in his electorate, Federal MP for Bowman Andrew Laming decided to take to Facebook to question the dedication of teachers and explore his curiosity about what teachers do on their holidays.

“Are teachers back at work this week or are they ‘lesson planning’ from home? Let me know exactly,” he asked.

His post prompted an outpouring of stories about dedicated teachers told by their friends, family members and the parents of their students. Many teachers told their own stories about preparing for school to return. Thousands of community members who reasonably questioned why a federal politician would choose the cusp of the new school year to cast doubt over the work ethic and dedication of teachers took to talkback radio and social media.

Of course, the response is that it is nobody’s business what teachers do on their leave. Some of us will choose to undertake planning and preparation during the school holiday break and that should certainly be recognised. However, taking time out to relax and refresh in readiness for the coming teaching term is also very important and is a completely valid choice. No one should be judged for making a determination as a professional about how to spend the time that we are not at school. I can’t recall any occasion when a politician attempted to start a public conversation about what any other professions do when they are on leave.

About a week later, Laming made another contribution, this time claiming that the teaching profession doesn’t need unions and that there is no place for teachers’ unions in schools.

The 44,000 members of the QTU know that this is simply untrue. The Queensland Teachers’ Union plays an essential role in negotiating and enacting industrial agreements to ensure members’ pay and working conditions are maintained and enhanced and that consultation in the workplace is genuine and constructive. The QTU represents members’ professional interests through representation, advocacy, research and policy development. Members of the QTU go to work each day confident in the knowledge that they have access to a top notch legal assistance scheme.

But the Queensland Teachers’ Union is much more than the industrial, professional and legal representative of teachers. It’s a vast network of colleagues from all sectors and geographic locations. It’s the many hundreds of Workplace Representatives, Women’s Contacts, branch officials, Area Council and State Council Reps and the Officers, Organisers and staff of the Union. Our Union brings the profession together, regardless of years of experience or professional role. It’s a democratic organisation which involves thousands of members in its representative structures and decision-making processes.

Most importantly, the Union is a community that stands together in solidarity for the things that matter. “Proud to be QTU” isn’t just a slogan, a hashtag or a message on a T-shirt or badge, it’s a statement that says that we are part of something big, that we are proud to be teachers and school leaders and proud to be a part of our Union. Join the conversation on the QTU Facebook page or on twitter and share why you are #QTUProud.

Sam Pidgeon                                                                                                                     Vice-President

Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 122 No 1, 10 February 2017, p9