For me it was a no-brainer to be in the union. I have always felt that you need to be protected; you never know what’s going to happen with your job.
I recently needed the AEU’s support when my childcare centre announced they were struggling financially, and may have to make some of us redundant.
The next day I rang the AEU, who advised me to send through my contract. Two weeks went by before I was told I was losing my job. Management said that they would make my kindergarten teacher position part time and that I could apply if I wanted it!
The union was brilliant! They automatically gave feedback to my workplace, explaining that it was an unlawful redundancy because, despite a reduction in hours, the position still had the same job title, job description and funding. Things went back and forth for about three weeks, and I always felt like the union was going to fight with me and would be prepared to take it all the way if I wanted to.
There were times that I’d call the union and I’d be shaky and flustered, but by the time I hung up I’d be thinking, “OK, I’m in control of this,” because they had helped to teach me the process as well as my rights. When I was finally called in to a meeting with my manager an AEU representative came with me. The manager said that because enrolments were up, they could offer me the position with no change to my pay or conditions.
I was so pleased that the union had been on board to support me. The teaching work that we do is very taxing, and if something negative is happening in your workplace, to have somebody who can take charge of that for you is really beneficial.
My first impression of unionism was what you see on the news – protests and stopworks – but it’s so much more.
My first impression of unionism was what you see on the news – protests and stopworks – but it’s so much more. There’s the PD, the conferences, the Teacher Learning Network resource packs, and the one-on-one help if you’re being bullied or you’ve been made redundant. Then there’s the Women’s Conference – I’m going to attend the next one. I went to the Early Childhood Conference and loved it.