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Challenges  to IEU position on religious exemption

As the debate on religious schools’ discrimination exemption winds out, a handful of Christian schools in SA are making formal and informal challenges to the IEUA position that both staff and students should be protected from discrimination. They wish to retain the ability to discriminate against staff.

Our answer is that the IEU is a values-based organisation and its purposes are three fold

  1. Industrial
  2. Professional
  3. Societal

All values based organisations will attract some controversy when standing for their values/faith/principles and often are subject to unreasonable social or legal restrictions. Unions are subject to attack from various quarters. Religions similarly, but we all persevere in sub-optimal environments.

The IEU is established to better members’ working lives and the society in which members live.  We have no remit to advocate for any particular faith or dogma. We have our own articles of faith. We do advocate for the rights of non-government schools to exist and be funded as a part of the provision of public education, because it is in the best interests of members.

Members will have a whole range of religious viewpoints. Our duty is not to protect any person or group’s religious sensibilities, but rather to protect our members in their employment and broader lives.

We will take that stand should the issue arise even if the issue was not one of our raising. We have no particular experience of students being discriminated against on the basis of gender/sexuality, but where members need protection we will advocate for that protection even if that does not accord with a particular employer’s world view.