A parent and student advocacy group has called on the government and education union to return to the negotiating table after stop-work meetings disrupted schools across the North on Tuesday morning, with similar action to follow in the South on Wednesday.
Tasmanian Association of State School Organisations president Nigel Jones was “disappointed” the Australian Education Union went ahead with the action and added he would be interested to know how many students did not attend schools on Tuesday.
Mr Jones hoped that by Christmas the government and the union could return to the negotiating table in “good faith” and “reach an outcome where there will be no more of this disruptive industrial action”.
“The government is not getting hurt, the unions are not getting hurt – it’s the parents and students that are being hurt,” he said.
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At a Launceston stop-work meeting on Tuesday – which meant classes at state schools in the region did not begin until 10.30am – AEU state manager Roz Madsen called on the government to bring pay arrangements into line with other states and address growing workloads teachers say are affecting their ability to give students the education they “need and deserve”.
Ms Madsen also flagged a member survey on future work bans later this week to inform their executive about how the campaign should escalate into the 2019 school year if there is no “resolution in the interim”.
This comes after the union rejected an “offensive” offer from the government earlier this month which put forward an extra 95 specialist teachers on top of 250 already being recruited, with a 6 per cent pay rise over three years.
Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff said the AEU action was more about money than smaller class sizes and teacher workloads – a position the union rejects.
Mr Rockliff added an increase of more than 6 per cent in wages over three years “actually threatens our capacity to deliver” on the increased staffing commitments.
“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,” Ms Madsen told media after the meeting.
Around 400 teachers and staff filled the Elphin Sports Centre stands during school hours on Tuesday morning.
Belinda King, a grade one and two teacher at Deloraine Primary School, spoke about the workloads faced by teachers and the hours of unpaid overtime needed combat them.
“Teachers suffer from the boiling frog syndrome, and the temperature just keeps on rising,” Ms King said.
“The government also knows this, but they are not listening to the teachers.”
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