Parents and carers will be forced to make alternative arrangements for their school-aged children next Tuesday after planned industrial action has forced schools to close for the morning.
Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff announced to Parliament on Tuesday 152 Tasmanian public schools would be closed until 10.30am on November 27-8 to accommodate the action.
Stop work meetings will be held by the AEU in the North and North-West on November 27 and in the south on November 28.
There are 39 schools in Northern Tasmania that will be closed until 10.30am and 37 in the North-West who will be affected by the closures.
Bus timetables will not be changed to reflect the school closures, and parents are urged to ensure alternative arrangements. About 40 schools across the state will continue to open as normal.
It is the second time in about a month schools have been closed to accommodate the wages dispute, with schools closing early on October 24 to allow for union members to attend a stop work rally.
This time around parents and carers will endure a morning closure, and two hours of disrupted school, in a move that was labelled “belligerent” and “deliberately disruptive” by the Mr Rockliff.
“This belligerent action by the union is going to affect thousands of families across Tasmania and Labor should condemn this and call on their union mates to call off the strike and come back to the negotiating table,” Mr Rockliff said.
However, the union has defended the action, saying the government “has no respect” for its members and has not come to the table with a fair offer that addresses its key concerns.
“We want the government to come to the table with solutions for the crippling workload, to address class sizes and a pay off that respects the complex role of teaching,” AEU branch president Helen Richardson said.
The industrial action is part of a statewide campaign run by the public servant unions, who have been campaigning to increase public sector wages.
It follows stop work rallies held last month and escalating industrial action from various sectors, including nurses and midwives, cleaners and firefighters.
The AEU has been stepping up its action, urging members to stop writing comments on reports and not entering attendance data into a central Education Department system.
Last week, the state government offered to recruit an extra 95 specialist teachers and reduce contact hours for primary school teachers by two hours per day, as a sweetener to their existing negotiations.
However, that was rejected in 24 hours by the union, saying it didn’t go far enough to meet their needs.
“We put in our very extensive log of claims because we wanted equity for instructional load for primary and high schools and that [measure] is welcomed,” Ms Richardson said.
“But there was nothing [in the other offer] for principals’ wellbeing, and nothing for isolated and regional schools.”
Mr Rockliff said the government’s proposal had been fair and reasonable and accused the AEU of rejecting the counter offer without consulting its members.
“This deliberately disruptive industrial action being taken by the AEU is extremely disappointing, considering the government has offered the AEU a fair and affordable wages agreement which provides a 6 per cent pay rise over 3 years, and addresses key concerns about workload and class sizes,” he said.
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