Tuesday, 19 May 2009
NZEI is the union for school support staff in New Zealand, people like school office staff, teacher aides, librarians etc. Many of these people are very poorly paid and have limited job security, facing cuts to hours or being laid off if wages are increased. NZEI has mounted a Fair Deal campaign for support staff. A key focus of the campaign is development of member leadership and activism. This represents a considerable shift in the way the union has worked in the past - the focus on member driven activity is exciting, and challenging.
As part of the campaign a Fair Deal Ning has been set up. There is some staff input - this was particularly important at the beginning to get the ball rolling but now the bulk of the Ning members are union members. The site had a real boost when support staff participated in a day of action meaning there were plenty of photos and video to add. The focus of current comments is around support for the negotiation team bargaining the support staff collective agreement. Letting members have their head and speak out without carefully shaping the message is something very new for NZEI and is a welcome development.
I see the staff role as bring the Ning to the attention of members and showing them how to use it. It will interesting to see if the momentum can be maintained. I would be interested in hearing of other examples of unions using Nings or other similar sites and particularly the role of union staff with these.