The Victorian teachers union (AEU) is recommending a deal to members that, while it does mean a pay rise averaging above 2.75 per cent a year, most teachers will wait two years for any serious pay increase. The deal also erodes job security and delivers no improvements on class sizes and conditions. Victorian teachers deserve far better.
The deal takes the autonomous school employment system further. Teachers and support staff will no longer be able to automatically transfer to another school if enrolments drop at their school and they are declared “in excess”.
The pay rise will not be backdated—the $1000 sign on payment won’t be part of a baseline salary. For most teachers and support staff there are tiny, below inflation, incremental pay rises every six months until August 2015, when the 4-6 per cent pay rise comes in.
Limits on class sizes remain unenforceable. There are “general” recommendations that schools plan for 25 students a class for secondary and an average of 26 for primary. Preparation time is still inadequate, especially for primary teachers who have 2.5 hours preparation a week.
There will be no change in the rate of contract employment, since principals can justify not giving permanent status for “any reason considered appropriate by the employer”. The department’s promise to monitor and audit the rates of contracts is as reassuring as the fox promising to audit the henhouse.
Teachers were able to force the government to drop performance pay. Three strike days, a rolling half-day regional stoppage and a work-bans campaign were enough to put a stop to that part of the Liberals’ educational market madness.
But if the campaign had escalated beyond the traditional three strike days over 18 months, we would surely have won more than the traditional pay rise with worse conditions. At each mass meeting, the applause for taking action on conditions was loudest. And at the most recent mass meeting, the mood was clearly in favour of escalating the fight so that there could be real victories—and quickly.
At delegated regional meetings this month, teachers and education support staff will have one last chance with this EBA to tell the officials that their pay deal doesn’t even touch the edges, and our job security is not for sale. We are strong enough to win much more.