Twenty thousand teachers at meetings around NSW have voted to take 48 hours of industrial action at the start of the 2009 school year, in the event of the NSW government not abandoning its attacks on wages, conditions and the staffing of public schools.
The unpopular government—now headed by Premier Nathan Rees after the resignation of former Premier Morris Iemma, his deputy John Watkins and the hated Treasurer Michael Costa—is seeking to cut teachers’ pay by offering a below inflation pay rise, strip back sick leave as well as workers’ compensation benefits, and is continuing to deny teachers in disadvantaged schools transfer through the previous service-based accumulated points scheme.
NSW teachers union president Bob Lipscombe reported: “This government must recognise the importance of attracting and retaining teachers to the profession in order that public education in this state is maintained.”
The fight by teachers is an important step in resisting the budget cuts of the NSW government. To date, the government has cut funding for rail lines and school bus pass schemes and has announced a long list of privatisation targets. It claims there is a budget “black hole”, resulting from not selling the state’s electricity generators.This government, with popularity ratings at the lowest point in recent memory, must invest in infrastructure and public services to renew confidence in the state economy, rather than bowing down to the whim of economic ratings agencies.
By John Morris