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.