Cries of “shame” from frustrated teachers echoed loud in the Elphin Sports Centre on Tuesday morning as signs calling to “scrap the cap” were waved with broad applause.
Banners from Exeter Primary School, East Launceston Primary School and others were visible among shirts bearing the slogan: “Tasmanians need a pay rise”.
The scene came as around 400 teachers and staff met during school hours as part of ongoing industrial action over wage and condition improvements being asked of the Tasmanian government, which caused schools across the region to start classes late.
At the meeting, Australian Education Union state manager Roz Madsen flagged a member survey to be circulated this week about future work bans to commence with the school term in 2019 to inform their executive about how the campaign should escalate if there is no “resolution in the interim”.
The stop work meeting was held alongside others across the state’s North, with similar meetings planned for the South on Wednesday.
Teachers are not the only part of the public sector taking action over wage and condition negotiations, with a campaign being undertaken by most of the public sector – much of it focusing on the government's 2 per cent cap on wage increases over three years.
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Belinda King, a grade one and two teacher at Deloraine Primary School, addressed the group of teachers as they spilled off the sports centre seats.
Ms King spoke about the workloads faced by teachers and the hours of unpaid overtime needed combat them. She spoke about being lucky enough to be able to drop down to four days to ensure she didn’t “burn out” like many of her colleagues.
“Teachers suffer from the boiling frog syndrome, and the temperature just keeps on rising,” Ms King said.
“We are drowning under a sea of paper work. We have nowhere near enough time to provide the quality education that our children need and deserve.”
Ms King explained that she worked roughly 11 hours of unpaid overtime each week. “Multiply that by four terms and that equals 12 weeks of unpaid work every year.”
“I stand here today to defend the profession I love. But you know this, and it’s why you guys are all standing up today: for our profession our, our children and our future,” she said.
“The government also knows this, but they are not listening to the teachers.”
Australian Education Union state manager Roz Madsen said the union was yet to put up a counter offer after rejecting one put forward by the government earlier this month.
The recruitment of an extra 95 specialist teachers was put forward in the offer with a 6 per cent pay rise over three years to come on top of an extra 250 teachers the government has begun recruiting for.
“That offer was so simplistic and so offensive that it was rejected by out rank and file elected branch executive the same day,” she said.
“As members that were here at our Launceston meeting today could see very clearly, that is fully supported by our membership.”
The union is after a new agreement that addresses workloads and provides a competitive salary, according to Ms Madsen, and hoped the government would come to the negotiating table in “good faith” over their 2 per cent cap on wage increases.
“We understand that compromises need to be made but we’ve got to have a decent outcome, which was not what was in the last offer,” she said.
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