Parents have been urged to communicate with their child’s teachers about student reports as the war over teacher wages increases intensity.
This week, the Australian Education Union Tasmania branch instructed its teacher members to ramp up their disruptive action to include not writing comments on student reports.
Communication to its members late last week encouraged action by teachers including not writing comments on end-of-year reports and not updating attendance data into a central Education Department program.
Australian Education Union Tasmania branch president Helen Richardson said the union had been forced to escalate its industrial action to attempt to bring the state government back to the negiotiation table.
However, acting Education Minister Elise Archer said on Wednesday the government had negotiated with the unions, it would just not budge on abolishing the 2 per cent wage cap.
“Parents around the state will be confused about why the union is punishing families and students when the government has put a pay rise offer of 6 per cent over three years on the table,” Ms Archer said.
Ms Archer said the action could put children at risk but Ms Richardson said the action was designed to have the most impact on the government and the least impact on parents.
“We have to escalate our work bans because the government still isn’t listening,” Ms Richardson said.
“Parents will still get their child’s grade scale from A to E but they will not be receiving the comments.”
She said the union hoped to see the government address teacher workload and also scrap the 2 per cent wage cap.
The state government has committed to employing an additional 250 teachers to help address teacher workload and take the pressure off public schools.
In addition, a joint Education Department and AEU working group has been meeting regularly during 2018 to discuss teacher workload issues.
It is understood reporting requirements and format has been discussed at the most recent group meetings.
In addition, the government has offered a 6 per cent wage increase over three years. However, unions have rejected that offer, saying the budget surplus should mean abolishing wage cap.
Parent representative group the Tasmanian Association of State School Organisations described the direction and action by the unions as “irresponsible”.
TASSO president Nigel Jones said the action would have a significant impact on parents and students and as such, the organisation did not support it.
“Many parents rely on those comments [on the reports], particularly if you have a child who is doing well academically, but may be socially not doing so well, or vice versa,” he said.
Mr Jones said TASSO had received a number of calls from parents and carers regarding the action since the escalation was announced by the union.
“What we’ve heard is that parents don’t support this action, because it is going to impact on them,” he said.
However, Ms Richardson said the AEU did have parent support, with those contacting the union saying they supported their push for a pay rise and the removal of the wage cap for public servants.
She said the union and its members had been forced to take action because the government wasn’t listening to their concerns.
“We have had to escalate our industrial action because the government is not coming to the table to bargain in good faith,” Ms Richardson said.
She said there had been no measures put forward by the state government to address teacher workload.
The unions have been pushing the state government for a 3 per cent wage increase, which has been rejected by Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff and Treasurer Peter Gutwein.
Education union members joined representatives from Australian Nurses Midwifery Federation, the Health and Community Services Union and the Community Public Service Union, among others, in large scale industrial action last week.
The industrial action has spread to include all public servants across all sectors, who have joined the fight.
Rallies were held in Launceston, Hobart, Devonport and Burnie, along with regional stop work meetings also held on the East Coast and at Scottsdale.
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