Showing posts with label SSTUWA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SSTUWA. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

"In Camera"

In reading about SSTUWA, a lot of material that should be public or at least explained to supporters of the executive is labelled 'in camera'. A term like 'in camera' should be anathema to a public organisation that is elected to be representative of members.

Wikipedia defines "in camera" as

"In camera sessions, also known as executive session which are a common point of order during board meetings, where information is provided that is not reflected in the minutes, and not available to the public. Some topics that may be discussed during in camera sessions include personnel decisions, financial decisions that must be kept secret (for example, where an organization is contemplating purchasing land but does not yet want competitors or the public to know about this strategy) or other sensitive issues related to the organization."

It is the last part of the definition that is misused as anything can be defined as "sensitive to an organisation" as the organisation must define how sensitive that it is. Members of the union are misusing this principle in order to make active members of the executive look inactive by disallowing public release of their attempts at change within the organisation.

Furthermore the definition goes on to say:

"Otherwise, justice in free countries operates under the principle that in order for justice to be done, justice needs to be seen, and the admission of the public to the court is considered a right. It is also used where one party claims some sort of privilege against a document (such as attorney work product or attorney-client privileged communications) while the other protests it, whereby the judge reviews the document and determines its admissibility."

The "in camera" definition raises the point that the members are, in the case of the union, the judge is the 'union president' and the public are the members of the SSTUWA. To misuse the powers of the union president in calling for 'in camera' discussion could be seen as seeking to actively mislead members through misdirection and deceptive conduct. Justice needs to be seen, that is the role of minutes and to limit the ability of members of the executive to discuss issues and develop their viewpoint with members seems decidedly undemocratic. You would think that in times like now, where little is being actively sought, would be a public breeding ground for new ideas and direction for the union. A rebirth as such of a well directed, robust and open organisation.

The 'in camera' discussion (and the 'poncyness' of anyone using it to confuse the masses and engage in legalese for the sake of it) I found irritating from the onset and I could not for the life of me discover why. Intuition is a wonderful thing.

The involvement of Marko in the union seems to finally be opening doors to a more active union. We should all be encouraged by perhaps finally having a more representative body and stronger leadership developing.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Union president and lack of representative integrity

Anne Gisborne, president of the SSTUWA, is again out whoring the latest EBA attempt. Her actions are disgraceful.

A person in a representative capacity should not have made this comment in the media:

"Teachers union president Anne Gisborne admitted its members were running out of reasons to end the long-running pay dispute with the Government after the in-principle pay agreement."

Who is she to decide what her members should think? That is why members have a vote. She has been elected to represent members views even when member views are not her own (the last vote proved that members do not share her voice and thus she should keep it reserved until she again has member support). If she does cannot represent members and put her own views aside when it disagrees with members then she should step down.

It doesn't take blind Freddy to see that this union faces extinction if it continues to not heed the mandate given by its own State council and continue to act irresponsibly towards its members. The acts of the genuine few believers will not be enough to stem the tide of those leaving the union. Unfortunately the outcome will be no true public school system (other than a safety net), pay per use education and further movement to a multiple class society.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

EBA3, heroes and the teacher wage claim

I was wrong. I admit it. I underestimated the resolve of key elements pushing for a significant wage increase and the ability of the union president to annoy her members. The wage claim is not dead and the latest EBA is likely to fail, so says the West Australian. It sounds like arbitration here we come.

If not for Anne Gisbourne (SSTUWA president), I would have thought that the wage claim would have been accepted and we would have had our conditions reduced for minimal additional remuneration. She, through her support for an ill defined pay increase, polarised teachers against the deal and has taken the focus away from Professor Twomey's support of the proposed pay rise. I would suggest her internet monologues selling the agreement have not helped matters - better silent than inflamatory.

A second smaller group of people(7) in the union executive has now split from Anne and openly condemned the new agreement. These people have been labelled heroes as they are standing against their employer and against the union president, will be marked as activists and may have their opportunity for advancement in DET and the union limited. Marko Vojkovic (quoted in previous blogs) stands with these heroes as the one with most to lose. Employed in a DET school he openly is criticising his employer and the union executive. He is standing for a principle. If the current agreement was accepted he (I imagine) knows that the morale and conditions of DET schools will continue to decrease and quality of education continue to erode. He has made a rare stand and is to be applauded.

We now stand at a cross road. Can the government back down from its current position and make a statement that it supports state school education? Can teachers get the message across that teaching in WA is in crisis and that the pay claim is not an inflationary increase but a redress of the inequity in teacher wages to other equivalently trained occupations? Can other unions be convinced that teachers are a special case (police, nurses, public servants, building industry) and not press for similar claims at this time?

How can this wage deal be done, have a public supportive of the agreement and not trigger inflationary pressure?

Watch this space.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Death of the Twomey Report

The Twomey report has been a rallying cry for teachers in WA when seeking salary increases. With Lance Twomey speaking in favour of the proposed EBA3, it pretty much rings the death knell of the wage claim. Without that report, there is no direct, researched support for increases of wages in Western Australia. If the union was serious about real wage change, it would have a well researched document of its own that could not be derailed like the Twomey report.

To some extent I'm glad because teacher concern about wages has removed many education issues from the agenda such as new courses of study in year 11 & 12, inequity of current grading of students in disadvantaged areas, teacher training, the development of real and useful professional development and modernisation of curriculum.

As state school teachers we need to imagine a government education system as a safety net in metropolitan areas and a limited service to rural areas. The changes to the EBA have targeted these two areas with significant pay rises. If this trend continues, these fringe services may become well enough paid to make them attractive. University entrance would be further restricted to those that can afford private education or be in the far end of the IQ spectrum capable of gaining scholarships.

I wouldn't be surprised if an 'ABC learning' type organisation starts entering the system and managing larger state schools on a profit basis. This sounded like what was described by the opposition in their education policy.

With current social changes and the reduction in public amenities provided by government, I can't see a return to well funded high schools with teachers and students able to rival private/independent schools in the near future.

As much as I would like and endeavour to make so.