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Issue #1551      13 June 2012

Vic teachers and principals strike in unprecedented numbers

An unprecedented number of Victorian public school teachers and principals stopped work last week in further pursuit of reducing contract employment, lowering class sizes, lifting salaries and addressing workload issues.

Up to 10,000 Victorian teachers and principals are expected to attend a stopwork rally at Melbourne’s Hisense Arena, with regional rallies also to be held in Mildura and Wodonga.

AEU Victorian branch president Mary Bluett said the strong support for the rally sent a clear message to the Victorian government that it must invest more in public education.

“Victoria is at the bottom of the class when it comes to resourcing our public schools. The Baillieu government continues to spend less per student on education than any other state or territory government and over the past 12 months has been responsible for over $2 billion in cuts and broken promises.

“We are already experiencing teacher shortages and we have an increasing number of teachers leaving the system each year, which places pressure on schools and forces many teachers to work outside their area of qualification or expertise.”

Ms Bluett said the need was to attract and retain quality teachers to ensure every Victorian student receives the education they deserve.

Close to half of public schools still have classes of over 25 students which makes it almost impossible for teachers to provide each student with the individual attention they need.

Further, almost one in five teachers (18%) are currently on short-term contracts. This figure increases to 47% for beginning teachers. This is particularly discouraging for those looking to enter and stay in the profession.

“Despite the Baillieu government’s repeated promise to make Victorian teachers the highest paid, they are now backflipping and leaving our teachers lagging behind other states.

“Teachers in Western Australia and New South Wales at the top of the pay scale are paid $7,441 and $2,822 respectively more than Victorian teachers for the same role.

“The decision to take action was not taken lightly and we acknowledge and apologise for any inconvenience caused to parents and guardians. For the long term gain, we believe this is a necessary step.

“We call on the community to show their support for our public school teachers and principals by joining the campaign and sending a letter to the Premier via,” Ms Bluett said.  

Next article – Union slams customs job cuts in regional Australia

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