For everyone Women’s focus: Uniting to fix the system

  • By Kerry Green
  • This article was published more than 1 year ago.
  • 3 Apr 2023

Women aren’t the problem; the system is. Feminists such as Laura Bates have been championing this message for years. And the best way you can change the system is through unity, solidarity and by standing up for the entitlements you need to do your jobs properly, with the respect you deserve, and the work/life balance you need. It’s not too much to expect and, by sticking together, it is possible.

In the schools sector, the VGSA was finalised last year, so now is a good time to make sure you are accessing the entitlements we have achieved. Some are new, such as paid lactation breaks, while other rights have been in place for many years, including the right to part-time work. 

Your school’s long-term plan covers the allocation of work, workload, and many other aspects of your working arrangements, so that’s a good starting point when casting a gendered lens over the operation of your school.

Are start and finish times reasonable and family-friendly? Is yard duty shared fairly among all staff, particularly for those who work part time? Are time in lieu arrangements working so you get back personal time used to participate in structured school activities? 

If you want to learn more about ensuring gender equity in your school’s long-term plan, contact your AEU Women’s Officer in Your Workplace (WOW) or consider becoming one yourself. Full training is provided, and I will support you every step of the way.

In the second half of this year, early childhood members will hold log of claims meetings for their benchmark agreements – EEEA  for the local government sector, and VECTEA for the community sector – which expire in 2024. It’s important that members attend these meetings and bring ideas for improvements.

Don’t worry about writing clauses – legal people can do that. But, as union women, you’re the experts. Take part to make sure you get the workplace rights you need. More paid parental leave, increased autonomy on working from home, better pay and secure work, and more time to do your job properly are all possible if you’re prepared to be part of the campaign.

TAFE negotiations are underway, and members are seeking better parental leave entitlements, the introduction of paid assisted reproductive leave, and better protections from gendered violence and abuse at work. Women make up the majority of the workforce in TAFE, but occupy more part-time positions, which in turn adds to the gender pay gap.

Members’ contributions to the current log of claims were focused on fixing the system, which would lead to better lives for women working in TAFE. As always, AEU women need to stand firm, united as a sisterhood, to ensure they win better working lives. 

Drop me an email for more information about any of these topics or to discuss women’s activism more broadly at [email protected].

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