UNIONS representing teachers, TAFE workers and emergency support staff say they don’t expect a change in the state government’s approach to their ongoing pay and funding disputes under new Premier Denis Napthine.
Erich Sinkis, Australia Education Union organiser for the Central Highlands and Wimmera Region, said local teachers and education support staff had been waiting two years for an agreement with the state government.
He called on Premier Napthine to make the workplace negotiations with teachers a priority.
“It’s not good enough to continue this drawn-out and painful campaign which lies at the feet of Ted Baillieu,” he said.
“Our hope is that Dr Napthine will see sense and quickly and decisively act to solve the dispute.”
Wendouree paramedic Barry Brennan said he didn’t hold out much hope for a quick resolution for ambulance workers seeking a better pay deal from the state government.
“If anything it will prolong enterprise bargaining outcomes because it will be several weeks before Dr Napthine can do anything,” he said, adding that ambulance workers would probably have to wait until after the teachers’ dispute was resolved.
Government spokesperson Mark Lee said Premier Napthine had “enormous respect” for teachers and paramedics.
“The premier wants to negotiate in good faith with the teachers and paramedics to achieve a fair pay deal for the workers, a good outcome for taxpayers and to improve services to the Victorian community,” Mr Lee said.
Acting president of the National Tertiary Education Union Patrick O’Leary said it would be business as usual under the new premier, and that cuts to TAFE were likely to remain.
“It’s possible that they may, say, attempt to restore some of the funding because they took so much flak over it,” he said.
Ballarat Save TAFE Committee chair Athan McCaw said the decisions made by Mr Baillieu had weighed against him.
In a letter to the premier, the group said TAFE cuts had hurt the government “a great deal” in the eyes of Victorians.
Career firefighter and local United Firefighters Union delegate Anthony Pearce said Dr Napthine hadn’t shown signs that he would reverse cuts to the CFA budget.
“The premier is ultimately accountable. Whether the incoming premier will seek to build some bridges, ultimately I’m not very hopeful.”
Government spokesperson Mark Lee did not address the TAFE cuts but said the Victorian Coalition had delivered the two highest levels of funding in CFA history.
“These are higher levels of funding than anything that was ever delivered under any Labor government.”