Teachers threaten more strikes after pay talks crumble

TEACHERS are poised to strike again in February and refuse to work overtime from next year after the Baillieu government refused to budge on its offer of a 2.5 per cent annual pay rise.
Nanjing Night Net

Pay talks broke down yesterday after the government failed to respond to a revised salary offer of a 12 per cent increase over three years proposed by the Australian Education Union three weeks ago.

The revised offer was a significant shift from the 30 per cent pay rise over three years previously sought by the union based on Premier Ted Baillieu’s pre-election promise to make Victorian teachers the highest paid in the nation.

But Treasurer Kim Wells said the teachers’ offer of a 12 per cent increase still did not fit the government’s wages policy.

He said it was disappointing teachers had walked away from negotiations and were refusing to write comments on report cards as part of the work bans.

However, he insisted there would be no change to the government’s offer of a 2.5 per cent annual pay rise, with any extra offset by productivity improvements, or its plans for performance pay.

The union opposes performance pay, branding it punitive and divisive.

State president Mary Bluett said its revised salary offer of 12 per cent over three years was in line with the police deal.

In October last year, the Baillieu government revealed that police would get an annual average pay rise equivalent to 4.7 per cent for the next four years, plus a one-off $1000 bonus payment.

”Our revised salary offer … would place Victorian teachers above those in NSW and South Australia but they would remain significantly below educators in Western Australia,” Ms Bluett said.

”Only last week teachers in South Australia, without having to take industrial action, were offered a deal which would make them the second-highest paid in the nation by 2014.

”This deal will leave Victorian teachers further behind other states and provide further incentive for educators to move interstate or leave the profession altogether.”

Ms Bluett said the union would not return to the negotiating table until the Baillieu government put forward a reasonable offer.

Teachers will recommence rolling half-day strikes from next Tuesday until December 6, starting in Mildura.

There are also bans on written comments in students’ end-of-year report cards, Coalition MPs visiting schools, emails to the Education Department, using the Ultranet, implementing the national curriculum and employing casual staff to cover during stop work action.

Planning for school camps has also been affected because teachers have vowed to work 38-hour weeks next year if the dispute is not resolved.

”Apart from being bad for business, this flow on effect of industrial action will create a huge disadvantage for students who will miss out on the experience to grow and learn outside the school environment,” said Beechworth school camp operator Pamela Bell.

Shadow minister for the teaching profession, Steve Herbert, said it was time for the Baillieu government to start taking the negotiations seriously.

”Two years of failing to compromise at every turn says a lot about this do-nothing Premier, as does the fact teachers felt they had no option but to walk out on negotiations,” Mr Herbert said. ”If Mr Baillieu allows this situation to drag on into next year, it will be a complete disaster.”

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