Tell me the truth

Victorian teachers have been embroiled in a conditions and pay dispute for far too long now. On Wednesday night I got email from the union saying this was the deal I’d been waiting for. The union has maintained all along that their pay claim of  12.5% over 3 years was a fair deal. The email said they have won because “Teachers will get 16.1%-20.5%”.
But it turns out that these figures have been fudged.  Each individual pay level will get around 11.25% increase. The union spin relies on teachers getting promoted up the pay scale – so that the pay in our pockets will go up by that much, but it would have gone up by almost that much before the deal. In fact, the deal has also made it harder to go up the pay scale, which is a change I support, if it is well managed. Seniority should not be determined by longevity in the profession.
I am more than happy with the deal. The government wanted us to increase our teaching load for any pay increase, and I physically can’t work harder than I already am. I’m also happy that progression up the pay scale is not guaranteed. But I don’t like being lied to, and that email, and all subsequent press releases, are actively deceitful.

Some people tell me stories,
wasting all my time
Some trying not receiving someone else’s lies
It’s my time, yes, it’s my time
So, why don’t you tell me?
Why won’t you tell me?
Why don’t you tell me the truth about you?
Midnight Oil, Tell me the Truth.

The original pay claim was not for 12.5% assuming we go up the pay scale. It was for each pay level to rise by that much. So don’t try to tell me that this deal is better than you were arguing for. Don’t try to tell me it’s a 20% rise. Tell me the truth. I’m happy with this deal. But I don’t like being lied to.

It’s all about politics. Everyone I have ranted to about this has said “Of course, the union has to make it look as though they have had a big win. That’s what’s important.”

And it bothers me that we all accept that. Of course, they have to make it look better than it is.

Really? Why is that? Why is it that our union leaders, our politicians, and our bosses need to make everything look better than it is? Why is it that we are happy with being lied to?

Why isn’t the union comfortable with saying “we won some, we lost some. We didn’t get the pay increase we wanted, but we have done a better deal on promotions than the Performance pay that the government wanted, and we fought off their insistence on an increased workload. We think this is a good deal in the current climate.”

Instead, they lie to their members and hope we won’t notice.

This is the Australian Education Union we are talking about. In theory, at least, they represent teachers. As teachers, we are supposed to be setting a good example for our kids. If I were still teaching critical thinking, I would use that email to show how you can lie without legally lying. Great example, guys.


3 thoughts on “Tell me the truth

  1. Kev

    Every communication we have received from teachers or principal (who are just forwarding union info) has been like that. ‘Government’s behaviour has made it impossible to put a timetable in place that would allow for the writing of reports’ which seemed to indicate something was preventing said action. Actually it meant – we won’t do reports until this is resolved and now it can’t be resolved in time. Completely different statements with the former bearing no responsibility for ones actions. Tell the truth.

    I think the AEU has done more damage to the reputation of your profession in the last 6 months than one might expect. Which us a damn shame because the people at the coal face are all decent, dedicated, caring people to whom we entrust our children

    I thought exactly the same as you when I heard the union president on the radio and then the minus yet explained the trickery. Good on you for pointing it out.

    1. lindamciver

      I knew you’d like this one, Kev. I was thinking of you when I wrote it. :-) I have less trouble with the “You leave us no choice” style of rhetoric, because that’s not actively deceitful, it’s just emotive language. But manipulating facts – hard numbers! – in a deliberately misleading way crosses a line for me. But maybe they are two sides of the same coin.

  2. Similar damage was done back in 1993-4 with similar disputes and inaccurate (lying) communication from all quarters. I missed several weeks worth of classes due to stop work action, had my music and language classes cancelled due to lack of student numbers, and in several classes, there weren’t enough desks and chairs for students (sitting on lab benches or the floor was common) — all because ‘there was no choice’.
    I’m glad this outcome is a good one for you!

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