SA teachers strike again for more staff and pay

Thousands of South Australian teachers, members of the Australian Education Union (AEU), went on a state-wide strike again on 9 November against a poor pay agreement offered by the Malinauskas Labor government.

It was their second full-day strike, following the earlier action on 1 September.

More than 170 schools and preschools were closed and 201 schools offered only “modified” programs.

Thousands of teachers dressed in black filled the streets and marched, demanding a real pay rise and proper funding for education. Alongside the dozens of home-made signs, some larger placards drew attention to the things the State Government would rather fund than schools, including nuclear submarines and a destructive university merger.

Teachers have rejected the government’s offer of a below-inflation pay rises over three years. A state-wide ballot saw 83 per cent vote to take strike action.

Poor pay and conditions have created a teacher shortage crisis, as in other states, with 35,000 students going without a teacher every day according to the union.

Inflation is currently running at 5.4 per cent, after hovering around 7 per cent for the last six months of last year.

SA’s Education Minister Blair Boyer is offering teachers only 4 per cent this year, 3 per cent in the second and 2.5 per cent in the third year.

The union called for an inflation-busting 8.6 per cent pay rise this year and 5.5 per cent increases in the next two. But in the face of government intransigence union officials have revised down their demands to a call for 15 per cent over three years.

President of the AEU, Andrew Gohl, said the latest offer, “actually sends some people backwards compared to the second offer.”

Minister Boyer thought that saying the offer was “worth $1.4 billion and amounted to the largest ever made to teachers in South Australia” was a good selling point. But all it shows is the chronic underfunding of schools and teachers’ wages in the state.

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