From the President: Why collectivism is necessary now more than ever
Queensland Teachers' Journal, Vol 127 No number, day Month Year, page no.
I grew up in Mt Isa in the 70s. During this time, the Isa had just come out of two very long industrial disputes. In these long running periods of continuous industrial action, people lost their jobs overnight and were forced to relocate to other towns or cities to find employment. When the mine eventually started back up again, people flocked back. It was a period of many ups and downs which followed the boom-and-bust cycles that so many of our communities still face today.
Mt Isa at its heart was a union town, as well as being a Labor town – a rarity in rural QLD now.
My family, however, were townies who didn’t work for the mine. My mum was an admin assistant and my dad drove buses to remote Threeways in the Northern Territory and then back again overnight.
I went to the local state school down the road – Healy State School. A vivid memory I have from my old primary school days is that our teachers could be found in class reading the latest edition of the Queensland Teachers’ Journal, which was mailed out to them from the QTU twice a term (and still is today). I also remember that when our teacher’s took industrial action or participated in May Day activities, they talked to us about what was happening and why participating as a collective was so important.
In rural communities – public holidays bring all facets of the population together. So, when May Day came around, the Isa would of course would come together for the traditional march and festivities. I remember participating in kid’s games, watching adult three-legged races, and hearing commiserations and stories of past industrial battles lost, as well as celebratory speeches of the battles won.
The hope that future union campaigns would bring improved working conditions across all employment sectors was also palpable.
As a kid, being a part of May Day festivities instilled in me the importance and power of the collective – that it didn’t matter if you were a townie, a miner, or a teacher, what mattered most was the understanding that when we unite together, we can create meaningful change for the working conditions of all.
As we head into May Day celebrations this year, I invite you to attend marches and activities in your area. Information will be emailed out to members from our regional offices.
Whether you are new to teaching, new to the QTU, or have some skin in the game, the ability to come together in a different way links our broader union movement together. Talking and listening to our union comrades extends our knowledge and understanding of what it means to be union.
I am #qtuproud. But our work is never done.
This May Day, come out to a march, mingle, chat, discuss, and belong.
See you there!
by Cresta Richardson, QTU President