I had been Federation Representative at Swansea High School for 12 years when I started to think about looming retirement. Would anyone be willing to step into the Fed Rep role when I went? Would anyone feel equipped to step into the role for which I was for so long the only nominee?
Fortunately, the school was not operating with just a Fed Rep and a Women’s Contact person. We have had a committee and in the last few years this Workplace Committee had grown. In fact, we had elected to the committee anyone who had expressed a desire to be there, not because there was too little interest but because there was plenty of interest.
As Fed Rep I encouraged members of this committee to apply for Trade Union Training at the Fundamentals for Fed Reps and Women’s Contacts courses. Those applying indicated an interest in moving into leadership roles as either Women’s Contact or Fed Rep.
Having decided to definitely separate from the department this year I did not accept nomination for Fed Rep. From those who had been active on our committee and undertaken training we found a willing nominee, Adam Young, who was elected via the democratic process.
Planning for change has meant that our new Fed Rep had some basic knowledge immediately upon being elected into the role. Adam subsequently enrolled in the Communicating and Negotiating Skills for Fed Reps and Women’s Contacts course provided by Federation.
A second advantage has been that I am still in the school and available to mentor and give advice to the new Fed Rep as he learns his role. This has meant experience and corporate knowledge can be passed on easily.
The third advantage is that there is a core group of interested Federation members who are part of the Workplace Committee and/or active at Lake Macquarie Association level.
No person is irreplaceable as Fed Rep, Women’s Contact or on a committee but the changeover can be less stressful for all if, instead of hanging on doggedly to your position, you provide other NSWTF members with training and support in a planned for succession.