I was a casual staff member, but the AEU gave me the information and the support I needed to get an ongoing position! Now I feel a lot more secure and confident in the workplace.
When I first started working as OSHC support worker in 2000, I was hired as a casual for the first two years. For me, being a single mum with five children, I found it difficult not having an income over the school holidays.
Myself and the other OSHC worker kept approaching the principal about being put on some sort of permanent role, to no avail.
We joined the AEU for some extra support and were advised that we should have some sort of permanent contract. We took that to the principal and he rang somebody, and whoever he spoke to obviously told him we shouldn’t have been casual for so long, because after that discussion he very quickly put us onto ongoing!
It was then much easier to budget and to know where I stood financially. It’s also about security, because with casual work it’s very hard to get a loan from the bank. Having ongoing work made me feel a lot more secure and confident in the workplace.
At first, I was a union member but I wasn’t very active. But as we went into the last EBA, I attended all the stopwork meetings because I thought, ‘It’s really our profession, it’s our day-to-day livelihood and we need to make sure we’re getting what we should be getting, and make sure our conditions in the workplace are right and fair.’
From then on I’ve been much more active, attending the AEU ES Advocates Program, the Women’s Conference and an LGBTI professional development workshop. Last year I became a member of Branch Council and it’s great attending meetings and getting to know new people.
I’m quite active because of the political climate – I’m not happy with the Coalition Government. These days, I attend a lot of the rallies, like last year’s Bust the Budget protest and rallies for marriage equality. I’m also involved in the May Day committee, which organises the celebration for May Day (May 1, International Workers’ Day) each year.
I’ve got grandkids now and I’m advocating for their futures. I want to show them we can have a voice.