NSW TEACHERS are to take industrial action in August unless the NSW government commences negotiations on teacher provision and salaries. The action of stopwork meetings followed by rolling stoppages will be ratified by the August meeting of the union state council.
While teachers, like other NSW public sector workers, are seeking pay rises over the government’s below-inflation offer of 2.5 per cent, they are also resisting an attack on the way schools are staffed.
To date schools have seen teachers able to transfer from difficult or remote schools after accumulating service-year points. The NSW Labor government has overturned 15 years of negotiated agreement of staffing with a competitive interview system. This means disadvantaged schools will have difficulty competing with schools in sought after areas.
The union is seeking for 1000 additional teachers to be employed as a real alternative to enable staffing of difficult schools.
There is an ample opportunity to win both an above inflation pay rise as well as force the government to back down on the deregulation of staffing.
Train drivers recently won a four per cent per annum wage rise without the job losses sought by the government. This reversed the set back for the nurses’ union, which accepted a 3.8 per cent rise, but with trade-offs over leave and other provisions.
The train drivers were willing to threaten a 24 hour strike coinciding with the visit of the Pope for World Youth Day. This forced the unpopular Iemma government to back down on a threatened spree of job cuts.
Teachers are better placed by the train drivers win and the joint public service action hosted by Unions NSW on July 30. August State council should call for the stoppages to include rallies outside Parliament House. These rallies, preferably joined by other public sector workers, would build on the discontent that exists to the current NSW government.
By John Morris, Secretary, Canterbury-Bankstown Teachers Association