Women’s health, Trades Hall
At our 21 April meeting, Anne-Marie Kestle introduced Jhan Leach, CEO of the Blacktown Women’s and Girls’ Health Centre (call (02) 9831 2070 ) who spoke of her experiences of discrimination and gender inequality and the work of the centre. Her $100 donation will go to the centre.
At our 24 March meeting, Anne-Marie Kestle introduced Neale Towart, Unions NSW, to speak on the “History of Sydney Trades Hall”. Unions flourished from the Gold Rush and were sustained by the Eight Hour Day movement. Land for a trades hall was secured in the 1880s; the auditorium was completed in time for the General Strike meeting in 1917 — we celebrate the centenary this year. The Banner Room holds an excellent collection. The $100 donation will go to the Trades Hall Association to assist with maintenance.
It was moved by John Inshaw that the RTA request Federation to investigate the following:
- is Federation aware that private contractors are being employed to teach physical education, sport or related subjects in NSW public schools during normal school hours?
- are other subjects in the primary curriculum being contracted out to private service suppliers? If so, what are these subjects?
- under whose authority have these contractors been engaged?
- are the personnel delivering these services qualified teachers, trained to the same standards as required to teach in the state system?
- how are these services funded?
- if there is need for these services, what is the Federation doing to ensure that only qualified teachers, employed by the Department of Education, will provide them?
Wagga Wagga bows out
We were saddened to hear about the closure of Wagga Wagga RTA. It has served the Riverina for a decade and we applaud Geoff Amos and his friends there for their commitment to the group and public education.
Congrats to Sally McManus
Enid Hokin moved that the RTA congratulates Sally McManus upon being appointed Secretary of the ACTU and supports her statement on the right to break bad laws. In doing so, we honour Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, the suffragettes and the many unionists who broke laws by taking action to improve the conditions of working people.
Ron Denham reported that Federation member Kevin Tory chaired the 20 March meeting of the Combined Retired Union Members Association (CRUMA). Kevin was congratulated on his election as an Elder to the ACTU Indigenous Committee.
The booklet, Why You Need to Join a Union, was distributed at the meeting. The RTA contributed $50 towards its printing. The booklet will be distributed in universities and TAFEs.
The ALP is not standing a candidate in the Manly election; Unions NSW will support whatever candidates put the Liberals last.
The ACTU now has an all-woman team with Sally McManus as Secretary, joining Ged Kearney as President.
Barry Gardener addressed the meeting on public housing issues at Millers Point. Four years ago, there were 400 tenancies in public housing within the Sydney CBD and now only 31 remain (only four remain in the Sirius building, the block of apartments built in the Rocks in the 1970s for public housing; a new requirement is that tenants there must have an income exceeding $33,000pa. unions would be at the Sirius building in force if evictions were attempted.
There was extensive discussion on journalist Bill Leak, who recently passed away; a copy of a condemnation of Leak’s perceived racism, “Freedom of a Coward” (The Saturday Paper's Editorial of March 18-24 , 2017, p. 4), was distributed.
Means test protest
It was moved by Frank Scharfe that RTA lodge an injunction to discontinue the iniquity of the inequitable means and assets tests for the age pension. During our youth, we built the economy of this land and by our toil we have contributed more than enough to entitle us to a fair and just defined-benefit superannuation in our declining years.
With age come physical ailments and a need for surgical interventions that quickly deplete our pallid life savings. Hence, in England and Canada, assets and means do not limit the old-age pension entitlement.
Jan Wright, NGROO Education Inc., Tregear PS (call (02) 9835 6056 or 0422019124), needs volunteer tutors at three Mt Druitt schools in an intervention program for Aboriginal students.
Inneke Taalman ( 08 7120 8415) is recruiting volunteers for extended overseas appointments for Australian Volunteers for International Development.
Fast internet for all
Peter Trist moved that the RTA deplores MP Fiona Nash's suggestion that internet speeds in country areas need not be as fast as those in capital cities. The internet is rapidly becoming part of the curriculum, providing educational opportunities for both teachers and students. Restriction of country access speeds to the internet threatens to reduce educational outcomes for country children.
Allan West is the Secretary, NSW Retired Teachers Association