Strike: school’s out Thursday

TEACHERS and education support staff at up to 26 local schools will take stop work action on Thursday after negotiations between the Australian Education Union and Baillieu government for a new enterprise bargaining agreement broke down for the second time last Thursday.

The principal, assistant principal, all classroom teachers and AEU education support officers at Sale’s Guthridge Primary School will be among 26 schools in Wellington Shire participating in a half-day of stop work action on Thursday morning.

In a letter to the editor, the AEU sub-branch at Guthridge Primary School said it would participate in the stop work with reluctance and understood the inconvenience this could cause families.

“However the students at our school are our first and main concern and you cannot slash $481 million from public education without it directly affecting our kids,” the letter said.

“We have the lowest funded public schools in the country.

“We want the children at our school, regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds or family circumstances, to receive an education that is of the very highest standard and this cannot occur without adequate resourcing from the government.”

AEU Victorian branch president Mary Bluett said despite the AEU putting a revised offer on the table three weeks ago, the state government had failed to respond or negotiate on the major issues of salaries, contract employment, class sizes and workload.

“The Baillieu Government has shown a complete lack of respect for public school staff in Victoria by publicly saying that they want this issue resolved, but behind closed doors, not even having the decency to negotiate in good faith and respond to what is a very reasonable offer,” she said.

“The AEU, in a bid to resolve this dispute, moved from their original 10 per cent pay claim, which was based on Premier Baillieu’s promise to make Victorian teachers the highest paid in the nation.

“Our revised salary offer of 12 per cent over three years is in line with the police deal and would place Victorian teachers above those in New South Wales and South Australia but they would remain significantly below educators in Western Australia.

“Only last week, teachers in South Australia, without having to take industrial action, were offered a deal which would make them the second highest paid in the nation by 2014.”

Ms Bluett said the AEU had been meeting with the Education Department weekly, and would not return to the negotiating table until a “reasonable offer” had been put forward.