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V8N2 - May 2018
Following a refusal to commence negotiations on an EBA by their employer, IEU members at Kaplan International English School Melbourne have begun the process of putting together a petition in support of an application by the Union for a Majority Support Determination at the Fair Work Commission.
Where it can be demonstrated that a valid majority of employees to be covered by a proposed EBA support the negotiation of an EBA with their employer, the FWC can make an order compelling the employer to negotiate.
Kaplan International School Melbourne is part of a global network of private education providers operating in what has become a highly lucrative market catering for international students in Australia. Students are drawn from all around the world to Kaplan but currently there are large groups from Central and South America, Thailand, Saudi Arabia and Japan.
English Language teachers at Kaplan are seeking an EBA because their wages and conditions currently sit well below those negotiated at other English language colleges in Melbourne. This is despite the fact that Kaplan teachers are very well qualified with many holding honours degrees and postgraduate certificates in TESOL as well as Masters’ level qualifications.
The IEU has a strong sub-branch at Kaplan with rep Sadia Schneider recruiting many staff to the Union. Sadia works closely with assistant reps Claire Zimmerman and Andrew Zincke.
IEU members at Kaplan say that, while in many ways Kaplan is a great place to work, sometimes the rhetoric doesn’t match the reality.
They say that considering ‘Kaplan prides itself on being the best in the world, they should pay their teachers accordingly.’
Assistant rep Andrew Zincke says that the staff at the school have created ‘a fantastic supportive environment’ for themselves and Kaplan students. He joined the IEU because he ‘has seen how unions can benefit professional educators.’
Claire said that the IEU sub-branch has really grown at Kaplan. ‘I took on the position of assistant union rep because I’m passionate about it,’ she said. ‘I think that the whole sector should be organised. Companies should support their staff being protected and fairly compensated.’
Sadia Schneider said that she took on the role of rep because she thinks ‘organising workplaces is vital to pushing back against the assault on living standards by both corporations and consecutive governments over the last few decades.’ She is also an active socialist who says unionism is something she is passionate about.
IEU members are hoping that negotiations on an EBA are positive and constructive. They say that there are benefits of working in the industry but that, in relation to wages and conditions, better regulation is required. For this reason, IEU members at Kaplan strongly support the ACTU ‘Change the Rules’ campaign.
The IEU has supported members seeking majority support determinations at a number of workplaces over the past few years and then successfully negotiated EBAs which have delivered significant improvements to wages and conditions.