Supporting the independent education community


  1. Recruitment - Step 1
  2. Informing members - Step 2
  3. Involving Members - Step 3
  4. Who can join
  5. Support staff members

Your strength as an IEU representative rests on membership support. It is part of every IEU representative's job to develop this support and encourage solidarity among members at the workplace.

To overcome apathy and gain vital support you must do three things:

  • recruit members
  • inform members and
  • involve members

1. Recruitment - Step 1

Full membership or not, the Union representative must aim to recruit active members into the Union - not just ticket holders. Recruiting members to the Union is one of the most important functions of the rep. The more members the IEU has, the greater is our bargaining power.

It can be a frustrating job recruiting members to the Union. Not everyone understands immediately why belonging to the IEU is good for them personally and also good for the collective power of the employees at the workplace.

Before you begin recruiting, it may be a good idea to formulate a plan about how to get people to join the Union.

Your plan could look like this:

Stage One: Being prepared 

Identify all current non-members (use your IEU printout of members, contact the IEU Office if you don't have a copy), then:

  • Check all new starters for union membership
  • Have recruitment material from the Union available Reasons to join the Union:
  • It's our way of making sure our voice gets heard at the workplace
  • It's our way of being able to effect change in the workplace
  • Because you never know when you will need confidential advice and support
  • Industrial representation when you need it.

Stage Two: Making the approach 

  • Approach people who seem easiest to recruit first
  • See people individually
  • Adopt a friendly approach
  • Ask questions, listen to their concerns
  • Give information about the Union
  • Give membership form.

Stage Three: Follow Up 

  • Go back to potential members
  • Answer any questions/concerns
  • Ask them to sign the form - getting to the crunch!

Explaining about membership fees Membership Fees are a touchy subject in any union. When times are tough, almost any expense can seem burdensome to workers.

Things you can say are:

  • Membership fees are a good investment rather than an expense
  • Fees are tax deductible
  • It's a bit like insurance, you never know when you'll need it.

What are the fees used for?
Negotiating awards and agreements requires research analysts, negotiators, industrial officers and organisers to build support on the ground fees also facilitate. Fees are also used for:

  • Defending members using legal help
  • Education and training programs, publications and resources for campaigns that are important in our industry
  • Representing the interests of employees to industry bodies, government etc
  • Organisers to assist with members' concerns and issues.

Recruitment Checklist 

  • Distribute Union literature to non-members/new recruits
  • Include support staff, maintenance staff, casual, part-time etc
  • Involve members. ask them to do things
  • Publicise the union's activities. make sure that all employees know what the Union is doing
  • Hold special recruitment/education meetings
  • Pay special attention to hard to organise groups (casual, part-time, support staff etc)
  • Speak at school induction meetings about the services offered by the IEU to it's members.

2. Informing members - Step 2

It is vital that you keep members informed and interested in Union activities. Union membership must continue to be acknowledged as worthwhile Some ideas to help with this are:.

  • Hold regular union meetings
  • Distribute information sheets
  • Run membership education campaigns
  • Conduct surveys of members. Checklist for members' meetings
  • Hold meetings regularly and often
  • Advertise well in advance
  • Plan your reports carefully
  • Make sure everyone or as many as possible can take part
  • Follow up meetings with action
  • Report back at future meetings.

3. Involving Members - Step 3

This is the crucial step. Involved members are not apathetic members.

  • Use informal groups or networks
  • Identify natural leaders and work to get them involved
  • Recognise different levels of involvement. Don't ask for an all or nothing commitment
  • Recognise that different members may have different needs.

Levels of involvement
One of the problems union activists sometimes create is the expectation of an all or nothing commitment by all members from the beginning. You need to recognise that there are different levels of involvement that can consist of a series of small steps leading to greater involvement.

For example, if you want to get a member involved in distributing a leaflet as part of an IEU campaign, don't just give them a bundle to distribute. What is likely to happen is the leaflets will end up in a locker or closest garbage bin.

Instead use levels of involvement:

  • get the member to take one leaflet
  • stop to talk to the member about what the leaflet says
  • get the member to agree to take a few copies to pass onto friends, faculty members etc
  • get the member to agree to talk to other people about the information and to try and convince other members to pass out leaflets.

Your aim should be 100% membership - to make all workers in your workplace Union members and once you have them signed up, to ensure that they become active and committed members - not just card holders.

4. Who can join

All staff, including support, maintenance and grounds staff, working in Catholic and Independent schools, English colleges and other non-government educational institutions, business colleges, and all teachers working in private and community-based early childhood services, are eligible to join the IEU. This includes Permanent, casual, and temporary staff members, whether full-time or part-time.

5. Support staff members

Ever-increasing numbers of school support staff, maintenance and outdoor staff, and boarding house staff are joining the IEU. As their numbers increase, so does the ability of the Union to act on their behalf and influence outcomes in their favour. Support staff, outdoor and maintenance staff, and boarding house staff are employed on different arrangements and under different awards to teachers and school principals. The details of these arrangements are spelt out in the awards section of this website. The names of these specific awards are listed at the end of this section, for quick identification.

The most important thing is to let these members know that they have the support and the backing of the Union and their colleagues. If their arrangements and rights need to be clarified, or if you are unsure which award applies, just contact the Union for assistance.