A groundswell of opposition is building against the Victorian teachers union (AEU) recommended deal. Teachers and support staff are furious about the union officials’ dishonesty with the numbers—presenting the pay deal as a 17-20 per cent rise when in reality it’s closer to 2.5-3 per cent a year.
As teacher and former AEU researcher Peter Job wrote in The Age, “If union members ratify this latest pay deal in coming days, there will be an effective decline in the salaries and conditions for teachers in Victoria.”
There is widespread concern that job security for teachers has been sold off for nothing in return. In fact we have lost conditions, with teachers on permanent positions who are declared “in excess” because of a drop in numbers at their school no longer automatically entitled to a transfer to another job elsewhere.
Without a guarantee that performance pay will not be introduced during the term of this agreement, and without any improvements in conditions, union members are wondering why we would wind up the campaign now. Teachers have staged three strikes, rolling stoppages and work bans over 18 months, and the last strike in February showed a desire to keep fighting.
The rank-and-file group TESA (Teachers and Education Staff Alliance) know of at least 44 schools voting no to the agreement at the ratification meetings this month. Already the delegates have returned a no vote at two regional ratification meetings on a show of hands.
The officials are concerned—they have banned critical voices from their Facebook page, they are refusing to count the ballot boxes openly at the regional meetings, and they are spamming members with emails trying to sideline the “no” campaign.
A vote no to this agreement will be a vote yes for a militant campaign to defend and improve our conditions. Teachers deserve much better than this deal.
By Lucy Honan