Fourteen public schools in Northern Tasmania will close early on Wednesday as industrial action ramps up.
As the fight for increased wages for public servants continues to be waged, the state government has been forced to close some public schools early, to accommodate the anticipated action.
Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff announced on Monday afternoon 65 schools across the state would close early, some as early as 1.45pm.
“The industrial action taken by the AEU is disappointing, considering the government has listened to their concerns and is employing an additional 250 teachers in our schools over the next six years,” Mr Rockliff said.
“Further, the government is offering a wage increase of 2 per cent per annum, which is fair, and affordable and enables us to continue to employ more teachers.”
Mr Rockliff said the student safety was paramount for the government and had made the decision to close schools early at the advice of the Education Department.
Schools closing in Northern Tasmania are:
- East Launceston Primary School – closing at 2:30pm;
- East Tamar Primary School – closing at 2:00pm;
- Exeter Primary School – closing at 2:15pm;
- Lilydale District School – closing at 2:10pm;
- Mowbray Heights Primary School – closing at 2:15pm;
- Northern Support School – closing at 2:30pm;
- Norwood Primary School – closing at 2:15pm;
- Port Dalrymple District School – closing at 1:45pm;
- Punchbowl Primary School – closing at 2:30pm;
- Queechy High School – closing at 2:30pm;
- Scottsdale High School – closing at 2:30pm;
- St Leonards Primary school – closing at 2:30pm;
- St Mary’s District High School – closing at 2:15pm and;
- Trevallyn Primary School – closing at 2:30pm.
Australian Education Union Tasmania branch state manager Roz Madsen said the government was informed last Thursday of the planned industrial action but had not made an announcement on school closures until Monday.
Teachers, principals and support staff will participate in stop work meetings and join their fellow public servants to fight for an increase to wages.
Stop work meetings for schools are proposed for 3pm and rallies are expected in Launceston, Hobart, Devonport, Burnie and St Helens.
“Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff has been advised of the action and his delay in making a decision is causing needless uncertainty for parents and school communities,” Ms Madsen said.
“Reluctantly, teachers are taking industrial action because the government has failed to bargain in good faith or address critical workload issues that are impacting student learning.
“The government won’t negotiate on pay and proposes that Tasmania’s most experienced teachers are the lowest paid in the country.”
Mr Rockliff said individual schools would be communicating to parents about the early closing times.
“Parents and carers will be required to ensure that children are collected at the new closing time from those schools that are closing earlier than usual,” he said.
Teachers have joined public servants from a range of industries, including health, cleaners and firefighters who have banded together to push for an increase in wages.
Heath and Community Services Union state secretary Tim Jacobson said the joint industrial action would be the “biggest in Tasmania in decades” and represented a united front.
“This industrial action is designed to have the least impact on the community but the biggest impact on the government,” he said.
He said the action would impact on the community so urged the public to be aware of what was happening.
Community and Public Servants Union president Tom Lynch said Tasmania’s public servants were “fed up” with the wage negotiations that had been held so far.
Australian Midwifery and Nurses Union’s Emily Shepherd the government should invest in nurses and midwives.
“With a current and projected dire nursing and midwifery shortage across the nation by 2030, the Tasmanian Government need to invest in the current workforce to recognise and retain nurses and midwives and offer a competitive wage rise to aid in recruitment both now and into the future,” she said.
All the unions said they wished the government to continue to negotiate wage increases “in good faith”.
A stop work rally will be held at Ockerby Gardens, Launceston on Wednesday, at 3pm.