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Issue #1564      12 September 2012

AEU schools staff stage Victoria’s biggest ever stopwork

Victorian principals, teachers and education support staff staged Victoria’s largest ever stopwork action last week, with up to 40,000 Australian Education Union (AEU) members on strike and over 400 schools closed as part of the union’s pay dispute with the Baillieu government.

Around 15,000 school staff packed into the Rod Laver Arena, video-linked to a further 1,200 gathered in Mildura, while thousands more joined the lunchtime march to Parliament House.

AEU branch president Mary Bluett opened proceedings by welcoming the 2,700 new members who have joined the union since the June 7 stopwork, taking the union’s membership to more than 51,000.

Members voted to escalate their industrial campaign to put pressure on the government to reduce contract employment, lower class sizes, lift salaries and address workload issues.

They loudly rejected the government’s offer of a 2.5 percent pay rise with performance bonuses. “We will not be divided as a profession,” Bluett said.

Members will continue to implement a series of bans and add rolling stoppages over the coming months in the lead-up to further stopwork action on February 14 if no agreement is reached before the end of the school year.

At Parliament House, government school teachers and education support staff were met by 4,000 Catholic school teachers, who defied a Fair Work Australia order to take part in the action.

“By your strong action today, you have put Ted Baillieu on notice,” Bluett told the crowd. “He and his government have broken every promise they made in relation to public education.

“Promise: ‘We will invest in schools’. Reality: cuts to literacy, numeracy and Koorie support, $48 million cut to VCAL, Education Maintenance Allowance slashed — all the cuts targeting our most vulnerable students.”

The most popular chant of the rally was “One term Ted”.  

Next article – Access to rig where two tragically killed

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