THE launch of legal action against the teachers’ union is another sign that the state government is not yet prepared to roll over on demands for wage increases.
It could be a case of preparing for any eventuality or it could be a sign that the two parties remain as far apart as ever.
Whatever the thinking, the actions of the government into going to the Federal Court to seek an injunction against a proposed strike on February 14 and work bans that place school camps, excursions, school fetes and sporting activities at risk, is an indication that the end of negotiations may not be as close as many would hope.
That’s not encouraging for those involved in the long-running stoush or for parents and students.
The union is seeking a 12.6 per cent pay rise over three years and a reduction in contract employment.
It had originally sought a 30 per cent pay rise over three years consistent with the Coalition’s pre-election promise to make Victorian teachers the highest paid in the nation.
Much has changed since 2010 when that commitment was made and there’s been little sign that either side is prepared to budge.
The government has scheduled a series of discussions this week, which may hasten a resolution. The question should be asked as to why such action wasn’t taken before now.
Any outcome that prolongs disruption to another school year will be unacceptable to everyone involved.
Strike action at schools has significantly more impact in this era of two working parents and the difficulties surrounding childcare options.
This is a problem mostly for the government. Mums and dads might be upset that that union is stalling but the recourse is not easy to establish.
To the contrary, every member of parliament becomes a magnet for criticism at the government’s end – and therefore it has much more to lose.
If the government does not want disruption to schools, it would be better placed striking a reasonable deal with teachers – one that reflects a commitment to improving education – rather than exploring court action.
One senses, unfortunately, that it is not that simple.