Growing power in the workplace
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 124 No 1, 15 February 2019, page no. 16
2019 is going to be another significant year for QTU members, with enterprise bargaining negotiations in both schools and TAFE and a looming federal election. That is why encouraging your colleagues to join and be part of our collective strength is so important.
In late 2018, the QTU reached a significant milestone – 46,000 members, and we have seen ongoing growth of about 1,000 additional members each year. As a profession, we will continue to face significant challenges as the work of teachers and school leaders continues to grow in complexity. But by growing our numbers and demonstrating solidarity in our individual workplaces, across our branches and regions and across the state, QTU members can ensure our voices are heard. Our collective strength, when we choose to use it, is way more powerful than that of any individual.
Growing the QTU is everyone’s responsibility and not just the role of those who take on a formal position in the Union. As we progress through 2019, commencing negotiations with the Palaszczuk government for replacement enterprise bargaining agreements in schools (EB9) and TAFE (EB10) and continuing to campaign for Fair Funding Now! federal school funding reform, we need to ensure that all members are informed about what we are attempting to achieve and all potential members are invited to join the Union and our campaigns.
We can build power in the workplace and continue to reclaim the profession, but the first step is to ensure that all potential members in our workplaces are asked to join the QTU. As you read this in your staffroom or at home, take time to reflect on what being a QTU member means to you, and next time you are speaking with a colleague who is not a member, share your experience and ask them to join you. Pre-service teachers are also able to become associate members at no cost while they are studying.
If you want to take on the role of QTU Workplace Representative and help grow the Union and strengthen our power in the workplace, contact your Regional Organiser, who will provide you with direct support to get started. All QTU Representatives are well supported with ongoing training and development through the Queensland Teachers’ Education Centre (QTEC) and excellent online resources.
As the Queensland Teachers’ Union enters its 130th year, we can be proud of our past. But our future will be even better as we grow stronger and continue to make important wins to improve the lives of members and the students we teach.
Deputy General Secretary, Member Organising
Beginning teachers often underestimate how many different ways the Union can support them. While it is not easy to persuade non-members to join, especially if they have been benefiting from the Union’s work for a while without financial contribution, highlighting the benefits they are most likely unaware of is a good opener. I go to as many Union meetings and workshops as possible. Discussion sometimes includes the types of issues for which teachers may need legal representation. Relaying real life examples to a non-member can often be enough of an incentive for them to join. Union membership is an insurance with ongoing benefits. You hope you never need it, but if you do, you are very pleased to have it.
I keep my workplace membership list up to date and regularly contact potential members inviting them to join the Union. This may be an email reminder, note in pigeonhole, a quick catch-up during a break or a “can I see you for a moment after the meeting”. Asking why they have not joined previously is another good conversation starter. You have to be able to “cold call”, so if you find this difficult, an email asking for a five-minute chat to discuss joining the QTU, so you can both be prepared, is another way to start the conversation. It is a good idea to arrange to meet in your room. The membership application can be open on your computer ready to go.
The main things are 1) make the first contact, 2) follow up regularly, and 3) do not give up.