In September, NZEI informed members that we had voted to allow the NZEI Executive to continue working with the Education Minister on the Communities of Learners (CoLs) plan.
The union worded its missive carefully, saying “Seventy-one percent of principal members and 78 percent of primary teachers voting in ballots held around the country accepted the Ministry’s offer.” And this is very true. 78% of teachers and 71% of principals WHO VOTED did indeed say to go ahead. However, that is not the full picture.
What was left unsaid is that a huge proportion of members didn’t vote at all.
And when they are factored in, the ‘yes’ vote was just over 30% of members.
And don’t think this was due to apathy – even stalwarts like myself didn’t vote!
Why, you might ask, would we miss out on having our say?
We had been given very little information to go on, and were being told that we should vote yes without being given clear reasons why. But at the same time, we didn’t have enough information to vote no. In short, we were rather in the dark.
So people abstained.
People walked out of meetings.
Some stopped listening.
People started muttering that they were seriously thinking of leaving the union altogether as they feel betrayed.
And today I heard from a union site rep who wants to resign because she can’t just sell the “dead rat” as she’s being told to do.
This is a disaster.
I love my union and unions in general – the work they do is amazing – so I don’t say this lightly at all, but on this one NZEI dropped the ball. And we deserved better.
I don’t doubt the sincerity of NZEI National President Louise Green when she said the Communities of Learners offer was “a complex and difficult decision for many people”. The union tells us that we must keep “working together to shape the implementation of Communities and their resourcing, in order to get the best outcomes for children.” I know the Executive have worked hard and done their best. But we don’t have faith that this is what’s happening.
What many fear is that the union is making very little progress, if any, in reshaping the actual agenda for education – one that’s been revealed in unsavoury bursts, and usually while schools are on holiday.
The union must take very seriously that so many of their members are unhappy.
Almost 70% of us did NOT vote for CoLs.
It is not popular.
We are not sheep.
We are not going to vote yes just because you tell us to.
This time, please make sure the PUMs are honest, open and give plenty of clear information. Do not make them into a sales pitch like the last ones. Be honest and trust us to make the right decisions based on actual information.
You need to win your members’ trust back, and we deserve nothing less.