Teacher Strike Proceeds Across NSW

The NSW Teachers Federation has authorised walk-outs and bans on new government initiatives.

Should NSW Government MPs seek to enter school grounds, NSW Teachers Federation members are authorised to walk out for as long as they remain on-site, following the union’s unanimous decision to proceed with strike action on May 4.

The union also placed an immediate ban on all new Government (Department and NSW Education Standards Authority) policies/initiatives due for implementation on and from day 1 term 2.

According to a new poll of 10,000 NSW teachers:

  • 73% say their workload is unmanageable
  • 70% are reconsidering their position due to workload
  • 90% disagree that their pay reflects their expertise and responsibilities
  • 89% say shortages are very significant
  • 82% say shortages are leading to higher teacher workloads at their school

NSW Teachers Federation President Angelo Gavrielatos said the Premier has failed students, their parents, and the teaching profession.

“If we don’t pay teachers what they are worth, we won’t get the teachers we need.

“That the Government is pursuing a new Award that seeks to impose a 2.04 per cent salary cap, with no change to the crippling working conditions experienced by the profession for a three-year period, is contemptuous.

“At a time when inflation is running at 3.5 per cent and predicted to grow, this would constitute a cut to teachers’ real income.

“Acting on uncompetitive salaries and unsustainable workloads is the only way to stop more teachers leaving and attract the people into the profession we need to fix the shortages,” he said.

“The profession is now left with no alternative but to act in the interest of our students and our profession, and take industrial action.

“One of the most fundamental roles of a government is to ensure there is a qualified teacher in every classroom with the time and support to meet the needs of each child.

“The teacher shortage has created a crisis in our classrooms. As of February, there were a total of 2,383 permanent vacancies across 1,251 schools in NSW.

“Government report after government report has stated the main reasons why people don’t want to enter the profession and why teachers don’t want to stay in the profession are unsustainable workloads and uncompetitive salaries.

“The solution to the teacher shortage and its causes, unsustainable working conditions and uncompetitive pay cannot be addressed nor resolved in the Industrial Relations Commission (IRC).

The Government’s own regulations effectively prevent the IRC from addressing the causes of the teacher shortage. Its own regulations will result in a predetermined outcome consistent with the government’s 2.5 per cent salary cap.”

Catholic school staff endorse public sector teachers’ strike

The Independent Education Union of Australia also expressed its full support for the NSW Teachers Federation and members who are taking industrial action on Wednesday 4 May.

“It’s time for meaningful action now,” said IEUA NSW/ACT Secretary Mark Northam.

The IEUA NSW/ACT Branch represents more than 32,000 teachers, principals and support staff in non-government schools as well as early childhood teachers.

“Teachers and support staff across the government and non-government sectors are dedicated professionals who have been pushed to breaking point,” Northam said. “The sharply rising cost of living, lack of real wages growth, ever-increasing workloads and global pandemic have led to crippling staff shortages. Our members are exhausted and burnt out.”

The IEU is in the process of negotiating new enterprise agreements for its 18,000 members in Catholic diocesan schools. The union’s campaign, Hear Our Voice, calls on employers to:

· Pay teachers what they’re worth (an increase of 10% to 15% over two years)

· Give support staff a fair deal (pay parity with colleagues in public sector schools)

· Let teachers teach – cut paperwork

· Allow time to plan

· End staff shortages.

To take industrial action, the IEU is bound by federal legislation requiring a formal, complex and time-consuming balloting of its members in Catholic diocesan schools. But this process is well under way.

“The union has obtained a Protected Action Ballot Order in the Fair Work Commission to enable balloting of members,” Northam said. “This will proceed during May and, pending its outcome, will authorise similar industrial action in late May.”

“We urge employers to Hear Our Voice,” Northam said. “It’s time for a fair deal for teachers and support staff – it’s the only way to attract and retain the right people to fix the critical shortages and guarantee teaching and learning for our students now and into the future.”

IEUA NSW/ACT Branch President Chris Wilkinson said: “For too long the needs of teachers and support staff have been ignored, and now increasing workloads, growing class sizes, lack of casual staff and constant data collection requirements have hit crisis point. School staff deserve pay and conditions that reflect the complex work they do each and every day.

“We stand with our colleagues in the NSW Teachers Federation. We all need our voices to be heard.”


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