Bread and roses: Education employees welcome new industrial relations laws

Independent Education Union of Australia NSW/ACT Branch

The Independent Education Union of Australia NSW/ACT Branch, which represents over 32,000 teachers, support staff and principals in the non-government education sector, welcomes the Labor Government’s new industrial relations laws, which passed the Senate last night and the House of Representatives this morning.

Teachers and support staff in independent schools, along with teachers in the early childhood education sector, will benefit in particular.

The union and its members thank independent Senator David Pocock for his commitment to passing the Secure Jobs, Better Pay Bill that will help get wages moving in Australia after a decade of stagnation.

“These meaningful reforms are a big step forward within a responsible, practical framework,” said IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Secretary Mark Northam.

“They update the rules for multi-employer bargaining and remove many of the complex legal restrictions holding back wages and conditions.

“The bargaining rights of teachers and support staff in independent schools who are covered by multi-employer agreements are greatly strengthened. There are positive mechanisms for bringing parties together to resolve differences and, as a last resort, independent school employees will have the democratic right to vote on legally protected industrial action. This incentivises employers to come to the table and negotiate fairly.

“New powers for the Fair Work Commission are another vital improvement. Should bargaining become protracted or break down, the Commission will be able to determine matters on which the parties are unable to reach agreement.”

Teachers in the early childhood education and care sector stand to benefit as well. “The IEU is optimistic about achieving better pay and conditions for degree-qualified early childhood teachers who were previously left out of the bargaining system,” Northam said. “They will have greater access to enterprise agreements under the supported bargaining stream.”

The new reforms come after months of intense union work. “The IEU commends the sterling efforts of the Australian Council of Trade Unions in leading a tireless and complex campaign,” Northam said.

“We also thank and congratulate union members for fronting up again and again: for attending Senator Pocock’s town hall meeting; for holding creative gatherings outside his office to explain to him what the new laws would mean for them; and for an IEU member’s viral video about bread and roses that captured imaginations.

“The union movement’s role in securing these reforms demonstrates that union values of taking collective action to gain justice and fairness benefits all workers in Australia.”

/Public Release. This material from the originating organization/author(s) may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s).