Pay rise for NSW teachers, but no workload relief and future wage caps looming

Some teachers in NSW will receive large pay rises following a deal with the NSW Labor government. These gains are a tribute to teachers’ industrial campaign that broke Perrottet’s pay cap. But there is no relief on workload to meet the long-standing claim for two hours reduced face-to-face teaching.

Teachers at the top and bottom of the scale respectively will receive increases of 8 per cent and 12 per cent this year.

But the agreement stretches over four years and contains other disturbing clauses. Education Minister Prue Carr has also flagged cuts to school budgets to fund the pay rise. The special broadcast to NSW Teachers Federation members, which painted the agreement as a one-year variation, was deceptive.

The agreement contains a clause that effectively binds the NSW Teachers Federation to “the Wages Policy of the NSW Government” for years two, three and four, although we do not know what the wages policy will be. Anything more would only be available if teachers accept trade-offs.

The government’s wages policy won’t be unveiled until the budget on 19 September. Yet Federation Council has already accepted the agreement.

It also contains a “no further claims” and a four year no-strike clause. This means that future variations will be by negotiation only. Teachers will not be able to use our strongest weapon—industrial action—to fight for more pay or workload reduction.

The “historic” pay rises sit in the context of historic rises in the cost of living. While the first year pay rises for starting and top of the scale teachers are significant, they are less than inflation when measured over the life of the current Award. And the increases for thousands of teachers in the middle are well below inflation.

There is too much at stake to accept a four year deal that does not guarantee real wage increases for all teachers and does nothing to relieve the workload and administrative burden that is driving teachers to breaking point.

The deal should have been put to a mass meeting of rank-and-file teachers. Union members can register opposition to the four year no strike clause, and potential new pay caps, by voting for the ACTION ticket in the Teachers Federation election.

By Chris Breen, ACTION candidate for President in NSW Teachers Federation elections

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