THE state government must now be getting a full sense of the backlash caused by its commitment to make Victoria’s teachers the best paid in Australia.
It’s what Ted Baillieu promised but, according to teachers and their union, he now won’t deliver.
Fair Work Australia yesterday granted an Australian Education Union request to let its 7000 members in administrative roles, including teaching aides and librarians, join teachers on a 24-hour strike. More than 30,000 teachers and support staff are expected to walk off the job in September, potentially forcing the closure of more than 200 schools across the state.
That’s likely to be one of the largest teacher strikes in the state’s history. It follows more than 200 of the state’s 1500 government schools closing on June 7 due to a strike by about 10,000 teachers.
The two parties couldn’t be further apart. Teachers are pushing for a 30 per cent pay increase over three years and a reduction of short-term contracts, while the government is offering a 2.5 per cent annual rise with further increases delivered through productivity gains.
The premier claims that the very best teachers will be the better paid under his government’s proposal. The union says incentive-based pay does little to create equilibrium in the workforce.
A major problem is that the union has taken liberty – as you would expect – with Mr Baillieu’s statement which was unmistakable in its direction.
The teachers’ action is the latest in a long line of industrial disputes that have marked the government’s first two years. Yet, there is little indication that the government is flustered.
How this might impact politically is intriguing. The teachers’ union is powerful and its membership has a great connection to the voting public.
The government might not be able to afford the increases in wages but it might not also be able to afford the fallout out at the ballot box. Should the dispute go on longer and become more difficult, this a proposition which it might have to deal with directly.