Teachers and others working in education are among the most overworked in the labour market – they regularly work more than 20 hours a week over and above what they are paid to do.
But their job is among the most important – educating our children and so determining the course of the nation’s future.
Unite delegate Phillipa Marsden argued that excessive workloads is a critical issue that must be tackled head on as she spoke in support of motion 52 yesterday (September 12).
“I don’t think I need to remind you that education is vital in our society and for all of our futures,” she told Congress.
“A high quality education can ensure that each child and learner has the opportunity to discover and achieve their potential.”
“But we cannot do this if our education staff – our teachers and our support staff – are battling through excessive workloads and are struggling with real pay cuts,” Marsden noted.
As an educator herself, Marsden said she despairs at how discussions have become “warped”, referring only “to outputs and league table statistics, but rarely the children whose futures are in our hands.”
She lambasted the marketisation of the education sector, which she said, has led to education staff being underpaid.
“And I see first-hand how those I know working in education are working up to 20 hours extra a week, their evenings and weekends eaten up by the bureaucracy that is needed to keep this market operating – despite it not providing the school places, the quality of education and the accountability that children, their families and our local communities deserve,” she added.
Marsden emphasised the necessity for an education workforce that is “highly motivated, skilled and is able to impart their passion and knowledge, to support learners and enable them to develop.
“Yet we have dedicated education workers who are exhausted, are unable to have breaks, are unable to spend time with their own families,” she noted.
“And as the motion highlights, they are battling against the odds to deliver high quality learning.”
As Marsden called on Congress to support the motion to pressure the government to take action on excessive workloads in education, she explained why this is a vital issue for the trade union movement.
“As trade unionists we should be concerned that not only is this hindering children from having the best education they can, but we are also sending a signal that this is what to expect from the world of work,” she said. “And they deserve better.”
The motion was passed.