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Issue #1582      February 20, 2013

Victorian public school staff stage record-breaking stopwork

For the first time in 15 years, Victorian public education teachers, principals and support staff held a third statewide stopwork on February 14 in further pursuit of a new workplace agreement with the state government.

Over 30,000 school staff stopped work, with thousands attending a meeting at Hisense Arena in Melbourne, linked live to a regional rally in Mildura.

Australian Education Union (AEU) Victorian branch president Meredith Peace said the state government had dragged the dispute out for over two years and it was time Premier Baillieu showed some leadership and, in the interests of students and school communities, put a fair offer on the table.

The statewide strike will send a clear message to the state government that enough is enough and it must invest more in public education,” she said.

“The Victorian government continues to spend $1,453 less per student on education than the national average and has been responsible for over $2 billion in cuts and broken promises.

“Close to half of our public schools still have classes of over 25 students, which makes it extremely difficult for teachers to provide each student with the individual attention they need.”

Peace said that Victorian teachers are now the second lowest paid in the country. Teachers in Western Australia and New South Wales at the top of the incremental scale are paid $7,508 and $4,991 respectively more than Victorian teachers for the same role.

Further, almost one in five teachers (18%) are currently on short-term contracts. This figure increases to 45% for beginning teachers.

“Education support staff remain the lowest paid in Victorian schools and receive little or no recognition of their skills, experience and the crucial role they play,” Peace said. “Many education support staff earn less than the minimum wage. Over 44% are on contracts.

“The AEU put a significantly revised offer – of 4.2% per year over three years – to the Baillieu government in November. This offer was comparable to teacher salaries in NSW and South Australia and in line with the police deal in Victoria.”

She said that to ensure every Victorian student receives the education they deserve, there is the need to attract and retain the best quality teachers, principals and education support staff to our schools.

“We do not take industrial action lightly, but in this case, it is crucial to ensure quality teachers, principals and education support staff remain in this state and in our profession.

“It is time for the state government to treat Victoria’s public school staff with the respect they deserve and resolve this dispute without further delay,” Ms Peace said.   

Next article – Protests at PNG consulates to close detention camp

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