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Issue #1806      December 13, 2017

Rally to save jobs

Last week over 120 Education Department clerical support staff rallied in Wellington Square at lunchtime in Perth to demand certainty over their jobs in the face of calls for continued austerity from Labor Party Education Minister Sue Ellery.

Richard Titelius at the rally.

Minister Ellery had announced plans to abolish 188 positions and was seeking 200 staff to take up the Voluntary Targeted Severance Scheme (VTSS – which the government was using to abolish 3,000 positions over the entire WA public service).

Against this backdrop, Toni Walkington, branch secretary of the Community and Public Sector Union Civil Service Association, reiterated, “We gave our support to the Labor Party prior to March 2017, and were given undertakings about privatisation, outsourcing and contracting out. Now we have been advised by the government of their intention to cut the public sector jobs of the Aboriginal Education Support Staff and the jobs to be given to the Not for Profit Sector”.

Walkington continued, “Education is the key to a better society and communities as a quality public education will provide knowledge and skills as the gateway to better training and ultimately jobs.”

Pat Byrne, secretary of the State School Teachers spoke next, saying, “Cutting backroom jobs will definitely have an impact on the ability to teach students as it will cut resources required to support teachers in their work.” Byrne emphasized she was aware the state government was in a financial mess courtesy of the financial mismanagement of the previous Barnett Liberal government, however, experience has shown that austerity does not work.

Karma Lord, assistant secretary of United Voice, the union which covers Education Assistants, said that the cuts to her members who worked as Aboriginal Support workers, will make closing the gap on education outcomes that much more difficult to achieve. It was the Aboriginal Education Support workers which helped Aboriginal families to keep their children in school. Karma said it would be union solidarity and resolve which would help save jobs and preserve quality public education for all.

The rally also moved a motion that if there was not a significant change in the government’s position on the proposed job cuts then the union members would undertake a campaign of industrial action to coincide with the commencement of the school year on February 1 next year.

Following the rally, the workers marched onto the nearby Education Department building entrance with chants calling for action to preserve education jobs now. The timing of the march coincided with the union delegates attendance at their joint union-management consultative committee meeting at which the proposed job cuts and VTSS offers would be discussed.

The Communist Party of Australia supports the united call by the union leadership of members in the education support sector, for the Labor government of Premier Mark McGowan to end its call for austerity measures to be imposed on the WA public sector. The Party supports the need for quality public education which is adequately resourced and includes the important jobs of the Aboriginal Education Support workers.

Next article – Special Congress Resolutions

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