Ballarat teachers rally over EBA 

TEACHERS will ramp up industrial action in the new school year if a better enterprise bargaining agreement is not met by the state government, a Ballarat rally was told yesterday.

Australian Education Union Ballarat organiser Erich Sinkis said teachers would resort to working a 38-hour-week beginning at the start of the 2013 school year if a better agreement was not reached.

“That will mean all the camps, excursions, information night — they all won’t happen,” Mr Sinkis said.

He said the 38-hour-week would be felt far and wide within the community.

“Most teachers report they are working around 50 hours a week — there’s a lot of descrepancy 

“A 38-hour-week will illustrate to the community there is a massive amount of additional things pricipals, teachers and support staff do to make their school a great place to be.”

Mr Sinkis said a further full-day stop work action was planned for February, but beyond that no plans had been made.

Australian Education Union Victorian branch president Mary Bluett told a rally of nearly 300 teachers in Ballarat yesterday they would not be divided.

“We are a collegiate working together collectively and in the best interests of our students,” Ms Bluett said.

Speaking outside the office of Western Victoria MP Simon Ramsay in Lydiard Street South, Ms Bluett said the teachers should not have had to be there.

“You are the best of the best and it was promised to make you the highest paid teachers in the nation.”

Ms Bluett said performance pay would be rejected by the AEU.

“Everywhere it has been put in place overseas it has now been abandoned.

“Research shows it worsened outcomes for students. Teachers, support staff and principals should be working together as a team, not fighting for a few pieces of silver.”

Ms Bluett said Western Australian teachers got a 8.9 per cent pay rise, while Victorian teachers had been offered 2.5 per cent, but were battling for 4 per cent.

“We need to get the outcomes to get justice for the work you do. We want what the cops got. If 4 per cent is good enough for the police, it’s good enough for those in public education and we were promised more than that.”

Ms Bluett said the AEU had been bargaining with the state government for two years, with negotiations breaking down recently.

“But we are not going to go away. The government has also failed to invest in our schools and invest in our TAFEs.

“They have wrought untold damage to the TAFE system and we will make them pay for what they have done to TAFE in this state at the next election.

“Cuts to EMA and cuts to VCAL are also hitting the most vulnerable in our society.”

Ms Bluett said the AEU stood ready to return to the negotiating table anytime.

Mr Ramsay listened to a teacher deputation before addressing the crowd and said he had two daughters who were teachers.

“I can’t stand here and make promises, but I can promise you I have heard what was said in my office,” Mr Ramsay said.

“Obviously we are listening. I know you want action and we want action too. The quicker the parties get back to the negotiating table the better.”

Napoleons Primary School grade 3/4 teacher Lana Stapleton said she had decided to join the rally, despite having only been in the job for three years.

“Basically, I’m here to support teachers to get better conditions, better pay and to cut contracts,” Ms Stapleton said.

“I love the job and I hope it will all come to an agreement soon and we can go back to the way it was.”

Ballarat MP Sharon Knight joined the rally to support teachers because high quality education was central to giving all children opportunities in life.

“These dedicated professionals deserve better than to be told one thing prior to an election and forgotten afterwards,” Ms Knight said.

Ballarat MP Jaala Pulford also joined the rally but as a mother, not a parliamentarian. Many teachers across Ballarat went on strike for half a day while other industrial action includes not writing comments on student reports.

fiona.henderson@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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