A meeting between the Australian Education Union Tasmania and the state government is scheduled today, as bargaining talks over wages and conditions continue.
If a deal can't be struck, about 36 schools in Northern Tasmania will be shut on the morning of April 3, and open later than usual.
Here's a look at what the main issues have been during the bargaining discussions:
IN CLASS SUPPORT
AEU Tasmania branch manager Roz Madsen said in-class support conditions had been one of the conditions the union had been bargaining hard on.
She said the main thing the union had been campaigning on had originally been smaller ratios of teachers per students, to address large class sizes.
"We started at the position of a ratio of if the class had 25 students, it would trigger a situation where that class received another teacher's assistant," she said.
However, during the negotiations that had moved to some acknowledgement in the agreement that classes and schools were all complex and to allow for a teacher to consult with the leadership team, ie the principal, to address and access in-class support.
"We are finding out that schools and classes have diverse learners and there are a range of learning abilities and styles," she said.
Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff and Treasurer Peter Gutwein have maintained that the state government's investment in more teachers and teachers assistants will address class sizes.
The government is in the process of recruiting 250 more teachers over the next six years, and during the negotiations offered to employ an extra 80 teacher assistants.
Because of an increase in the number of children who are in mainstream schools who are gifted, or who have a learning difficulty, teachers are required to provide individual learning plans for each of those kids.
Ms Madsen said the union was hoping the government would add some information into the agreement that would acknowledge that learning plans take up extra time away from face-to-face time to develop those.
There has been no specific details about whether the government has proposed to accept that acknowledgement or if they will put any specifics about learning plans.
PRIMARY SCHOOL CONTACT HOURS
Ms Madsen said the union was also hoping to reduce the "instructional load" on primary school teachers.
As part of the existing agreement, primary school teachers are required to conduct 22 hours per week of "instructional time" which is basically face-to-face class time.
Ms Madsen said a historical agreement meant that primary school teachers had 22 hours embedded in their agreement but high school teachers and college teachers only had to do 20 hours per week.
"It doesn't make any sense, it is a historical thing," she said.
"There should be no reason why primary school and high school instructional hours should be different."
On November 14, Jeremy Rockliff announced the government would accept that request, as part of its latest offer to the unions. The offer included:
- a reduction in face-to-face contact hours for primary school teachers from 22 hours per week to 20 hours per week
- 95 new dedicated specialist teachers that will be recruited by the end of 2019. These new specialist teachers are in addition to the government's existing election commitment of 250 extra teachers and 80 teacher assistants.
Ms Madsen said discussion around the table had been about how to make sure reports are more efficient for teachers and parents.
"We want to discuss if the way we are doing reports is the most effective and how we can use technology to make it more accessible for parents," she said.
She said the union was arguing for an "overhaul of the reporting regime" which had been a topic of much back and forth discussion.
PROFESSIONAL ACTION DAYS
Ms Madsen said the government had wanted to ensure professional action days, which are professional development days outside the classroom, be done on a whole school level.
This had caused consternation, as professional action days in the current agreement can include time at socials and school camps.
Ms Madsen said the union disagreed with how prescriptive the government wanted to be on how teachers could complete those days.
A key sticking point in the union's discussions has been the 2 per cent wage cap.
Jeremy Rockliff and Peter Gutwein have all staunchly defended the wage cap during the industrial action.
In October, Mr Rockliff said the government had proposed 2 per cent per year, which was "fair and reasonable."
"The government is hiring another 250 teachers and 80 teacher assistants over the next six years to address teacher workload and class sizes.
"An increase of more than 6 percent in wages over three years actually threatens our capacity to deliver on this commitment.
On February 28 Premier Will Hodgman announced they would break the 2 per cent wage cap and offered:
- Year 1 salary increase - 2 per cent
- Year 2 salary increase - 2.25 per cent
- Year 3 salary increase - 2.5 per cent
And on March 21, Peter Gutwein announced the latest offer would include a proposed revised wages policy, to include "wage rises up to 2.5 per cent per annum over the term of the agreement also includes the most significant changes in terms and conditions in over a decade."
WHAT IS THE CURRENT OFFER:
In a meeting with union leaders the government has outlined an improved wage offer to public servants which will provide a seven per cent pay rise over three years.
Mr Rockliff said the government was "negotiating in good faith" to give public servants the highest possible pay rise, and biggest improvement on conditions "that the budget can afford."
"We advised union leaders that the offers they will receive for each individual agreement later today will contain pay rises of 2 per cent in the first year, and 2.5 per cent in the second and third years, with the further increase funded through additional savings measures."
The government will provide unions with formal offers later today and the government has set a two-week deadline for unions to take the offer to their members for their consideration and endorsement.
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