entered teaching later in life. After two decades working in higher education, I realised that many of the opportunities and limitations that will define students’ lives had been set by the time they took a seat in a lecture theatre.
That’s when I decided to become a primary school teacher. I fundamentally changed my working life to make a difference at this critical early stage of a person’s education. In making this decision, I joined a profession of passionate educators who are collectively improving the lives of hundreds of thousands of students. We need to apply the same sense of justice to ourselves. School assistants and CIT teachers are currently in the midst of bargaining. By March next year, our entire profession will be at the bargaining table. Despite being covered by three different agreements, we experience a shared injustice. All ACT public educators - in fact, the entire ACT public service - is subjected to an arbitrary two-tiered superannuation system. Educators employed before 1 July 2006 receive a minimum employer superannuation contribution of 15.4%. Educators employed from 1 July 2006 receive only 10.5% superannuation. This 4.9% difference can be difficult to conceptualise. For a 30-year-old teacher, this means you will retire with at least $100,000 less. According to the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia (ASFA) Retirement Standards, it means you will not be able to retire with a comfortable lifestyle. It means your super will likely run out during your retirement and you will need to rely on the pension. The situation is dire if you take time off during your working life to raise children or care for a loved one. I am one of the educators who receives 10.5% super. I rankle at the injustice. I also know that we can change this. It is why superannuation is one of the issues raised in our discussion paper concerning matters to consider in our next enterprise agreement. Change does not come easily. To do this, we all need to be involved in our union. Life can be busy, but we can always find a wedge of time to fight injustices. Find what works for you - whether it’s debating in your sub-branch, bringing motions to Council, taking part in training or becoming involved in the networks - and commit that time. The more we organise our workplaces, the more formidable we are at the bargaining table.
Angela Burroughs AEU ACT President AEU ACT BRANCH