IEU members from across Queensland and the Northern Territory came together over the long weekend to celebrate Labour Day/May Day, after celebrations were cancelled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year, IEU members took part in a range of celebrations held in Ipswich and Toowoomba on Saturday 1 May and in Brisbane, Darwin, Cairns and Townsville on Monday, 3 May.
Labour Day/May Day marks an important opportunity to acknowledge the union movement’s achievements for Australian workers, including the eight-hour work day, annual and sick leave, superannuation, paid maternity leave and much more.
What makes us #IEUnionStrong
For IEU member Alex Patten said the wins our union has secured in recent years regrading access to paid domestic violence leave and the enhancement of women’s rights at work were particualry significant for her.
“We have been working to ensure women aren’t disadvantaged in the workplace when it comes to superannuation and insecure work – which continues to be an issue across the sector,” Alex said.
“Specifically in education, making sure that women have the right to return to work after parental leave and more recently securing them access to paid domestic violence leave if they need it, that has been a key win for us as a union,” Alex said.
IEU member Lynda Ellen said Labour Day was an important time for members to stand together and show their strength.
“It’s important we stand together and march to show employers we are a solid group of people who are willing to stand up for better working conditions,” Lynda said.
Member Damian Larkin said the wins where people’s rights at work are protected, where they are able to speak up on issues of concern, were what mattered most to him.
“In the end, what we are doing here is working for the benefit of our students, making sure our conditions allow us to do the best job we can,” Damian said.
Celebrating our collective community
Member Cathy Stevens said as a sessional teacher, Labour Day is significant for her.
“Labour Day is really important, particularly when so many of us are employed as casual or sessional or in workplaces which aren’t very union friendly,” Cathy said.
“We can come together and realise we do have the force of thousands of workers behind us from all different industries.
I know that everything I’ve got in my generation has been won through the hard work of people who came before me or alongside of me,” she said.
Member Marcella Pagliuca said a fundamental belief in union principles makes Labour Day is important to her.“Australia is responsible for the eight-hour work day and I think a lot of people forget that,” Marcella said.
Donna Spillane, an IEU member for 36 years, said Labour Day was a day to be proud of the legacy of workers’ rights.
“More importantly, it’s about ensuring those rights are always respected and looked after, and it’s about renewing the commitment to the union movement, particularly in economic circumstances where sometimes those rights are eroded for the sake of quick profit,” Donna said.
“Now more than ever we need to respect and uphold those really important rights and conditions.
Always here for you
IEU-QNT Branch Secretary Terry Burke said it was wonderful for celebrations to return this year after the pause in events during 2020.
“While this year’s event was not at the scale of our usual celebrations, it was nonetheless an opportunity to unite where we could (in a Covid-safe manner) to celebrate the many ways our union makes a difference in the non-government education sector,” Mr Burke said.
“Labour Day is especially important this year, to recognise the vital role our members played in providing stability and maintaining quality education for students throughout the pandemic and various lockdowns.
“Members demonstrated resilience, adaptability and outstanding professionalism during a very difficult period.
“For over 100 years, we have worked with our members to protect their interests and advocate on their behalf.
“Whatever stage of a member’s career, our union is with them every step of the way,” Mr Burke said.
Find out more information on the history of our union here.