The Guardian November 26, 2003


Teachers strike in West Australia

Eight thousand teachers marched from the Perth Esplanade to 
WA's Parliament House on Tuesday November 18 as the culmination 
of a 10,000 strong strike. David Kelly, General Secretary of the 
teachers' union said it was the first 24-hour strike by teachers 
in ten years.

At the Parliament House meeting teachers gave the State 
Government's Education Minister Alan Carpenter the yellow card 
and called out "unfair play" copying Rugby union umpires.

Protest meetings held at Albany, Bunbury and Geralton were the 
biggest ever held there.

As well as rejecting a three percent pay increase offer teachers 
are concerned over class sizes and the inadequate DOT  or 
preparation time  allowed to primary school teachers.

The Government has clearly been procrastinating and had refused 
to negotiate the pay rise for seven weeks. In another ploy the 
Minister of Education told the union he would only talk to the 
union through a solicitor.

He agreed to meet the union with Commissioner Duncan but not 
until the first week of December while the union proposed that 
Tony Cooke, assistant professor, conciliate. The Department 
rejected this proposal.

The Esplanade meeting heard of the problems that the union had 
experienced in putting its case to the Minister.

Colin Barnett, leader of the Liberal Parliamentary Opposition, 
asked for the right to speak but this was overwhelmingly rejected 
by the meeting.

It is hoped that the action on the 18th will force Alan Carpenter 
to make a better wage offer and to negotiate on class sizes.

The Government's plan is not only to hold teachers to the three 
percent rate but to apply this rate to other public sector 
workers.

The teachers' struggle is, therefore, in the interests of a wide 
range of workers and deserves public support.

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