2010 was a significant milestone as the Independent Education Union in Western Australia celebrated its 50th year.
The then Independent Schools Salaried Officers Association, Union of Employees (ISSOA), was registered in 1960, after a group of School Mistresses (now called Teachers) felt they needed to be organised if they wanted to improve their salaries.
Long standing Members will recall that women could be, and were, paid less than men, there being no notion of equal pay for work of equal value. Nor was there parental leave; in fact women in Government employment had to cease work if they married.
The then ISSOA was run from successive President’s homes, with the Independent Schools Teachers Award being registered in 1976. The membership in those days was predominantly from schools such as Aquinas College, Scotch College, St Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls, Methodist Ladies’ College, Hale School, St Mary’s Anglican Girls’ School and Perth College.
In 1986 the membership determined to employ a full time professional and Ivan Sands became its first Secretary. Membership increased dramatically under Ivan’s leadership, and new Awards were registered covering Support Staff. Improvements in salaries and conditions were achieved by the ISSOA arguing in the WA Industrial Relations Commission that the Awards should be improved. Members could generally expect their employers to argue that the Awards should not be improved.
Collective Bargaining at individual schools became the vehicle for improvements in the 1990’s and since. This period saw a significant expansion of Union membership into Catholic schools.
Today, membership of the Union reflects the demographic of the education sector, by school, gender, age and classification.