Combined union action

Approximately 200 delegates from several unions met in NSW Trades Hall on July 28 and voted unanimously to call for a statewide day of action on November 16 in response to attacks on penalty rates, the ABCC (Australian Building and Construction Commission), and the war on workers and their unions. The meeting also voted to hold another combined unions delegates meeting in mid-September, to plan an ongoing campaign.

The motion was moved by Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) delegate Denis McNamara and seconded by Unions NSW Secretary Mark Morey. Mr Morey emphasised the importance of the meeting and that it was important that the views of the rank-and-file and the community are listened to.

There were delegates and activists from the CFMEU, Electrical Trades Union (ETU), Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), Fire Brigade Employees Union, Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, Finance Sector Union (FSU), Health Services Union (HSU), National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU), Australian Services Union (ASU), Professionals Australia (representing pharmacists) and Australian Salaried Medical Officers’ Federation (representing doctors) and NSWTF.

ACTU national secretary Sally McManus addressed the meeting, as did union officials and numerous rank-and-file activists. Ms McManus spoke about rising inequality in Australia, its causes and the ACTU’s planned campaign around it. In response to the cuts to penalty rates, Ms McManus said: “Our rights at work are broken if the Fair Work Commission can make that decision. What we have learnt from decades of neoliberalism is that it’s up to us to put limits on their greed and to make sure workers have rights. We need to be ready to mobilise nationally and we will.”

These actions unite our struggles. The Your Rights At Work campaign has taught us we must build and maintain a social movement, independent of the ALP, that holds them to account beyond an election.

John Gauci
Taverners Hill Infants

NAPLAN is no plan

The latest announcement by the NSW Department of Education of the data it has received about students and teachers involved in NAPLAN is ridiculous and simplistic. The teachers’ enthusiasm could simply mean the teachers are teaching to the test, and the finding that Year 7 students do better if they turn up to lessons is hardly rocket science. The big issue is that the Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation (CESE) is now the Department’s largest body. None of its employees in this section are likely to hold even a diploma of education.

The Department no longer employs regional curriculum consultants or teachers who can assist schools and teachers in planning, implementation and proper evaluation of the broad range of the school curriculum, yet waste a fortune on meaningless data gathering. The collection of data and conduct of surveys does not lead to any improvement in educational outcomes for students, especially those from low socioeconomic backgrounds. It’s time to focus on quality teaching and learning not meaningless statistically driven stupidity, as currently favoured by the Department.

Mark Berg
Caringbah South PS

Barrage of tests

The lyrics of the Pink Floyd song Another Brick in the Wall come to mind when reading the so-called recommendation from the conservative Centre for Independent Studies. Students from Year 3 and up already face a barrage of standardised tests, building a brick wall between them and the real purpose of education — their learning.

Year 1 teachers already assess their students and clearly recognise the wide range of their developmental, academic and social stages. There is no need for yet another standardised, national test that will have the unfortunate capacity to focus yet again on a test, instead of being able to actually concentrate on student learning and engagement. Minister, ‘‘leave those kids alone!’’

Sharon McGuinness
Thirroul PS