Education union threatens to escalate industrial action

Jessica Cope  TBW Newsgroup
UNITED: Jessie Cope walks with a banner calling for a "fair go" during last week's march from The Rail precinct to the regional education office in Commercial Street West. Picture: SANDRA MORELLO

Jessica Cope  TBW Newsgroup
UNITED: Jessie Cope walks with a banner calling for a “fair go” during last week’s march from The Rail precinct to the regional education office in Commercial Street West. Picture: SANDRA MORELLO

THE Australian Education Union has warned it will consider “escalating” further action amid the ongoing dispute between educators and the State Government.

The warning comes as parent-teacher interviews, student excursions and teacher after-hours communication may be under threat as educators ramp up their backlash over pay and conditions.

It is understood some public school sector students returned home last week with no constructive feedback on their end-of-term report cards, which is part of ongoing industrial action.

The move follows hundreds of educators and supporters rallying in Mount Gambier during a full-day strike last week.

Lucindale Area School principal Adrian Maywald – who is a key Australian Education spokesperson – said teachers needed to be recognised for work they did outside of a classroom.

“During the last week of school, most of our sub-branch teaching team was up to 11pm at night marking, proofing, providing feedback,” Mr Maywald said in his capacity as a union official.

“It is a huge extra work load – which is all done on good-will – as there is no time during the day and there is no funding for assistance.

“We want our reports to be of good quality and accurate of what kids are doing, but I can see why teachers have not provided comments as it cuts back time they are not being paid for.”

Mr Maywald said an Australian-wide salary was suggested by “shocked” parents after discovering South Australian teachers were at the bottom of the nation’s wage scale.

“I am expecting on first day back next term, the union will release a focus on teaching and learning campaign and each site (public school) will be asked to consider what actions they wish to take,” he said.

“These will be low level actions to remind to department that if it was not for the after-hours teachers and school support officers dedicate, the education system would crumble.”

While he did not want students to suffer, the veteran educator said actions were necessary to improve learning outcomes.

Mr Maywald said he expected actions would continue to escalate until a suitable offer was made.

“I think we will start to see more work to rule aspects arise,” he warned.

“Teachers may stop working once their almost eight-hour day is finished and will let the work build up after.

“This may see no after hours phone calls or emails and I am sure we will see some more after-work rallies and campaigns until we are offered something that guarantees a backbone for a world-class education system.”

A three-way partnership between students, families and teachers would achieve the “best outcome”.

“Research shows around 78pc of country schools across Australia are under-performing when compared with their city counterparts,” he said.

“How can this be improved if classroom capacity is not capped, no country incentive allowance is made and after-work hours are not rewarded.

“We want to keep our teachers by providing a competitive salary to prove we are a world-class, leading education system.”

The elected executive union urged non-union educators to also joining the campaign.

But Treasurer Rob Lucas urged the union not to unfairly disadvantage students and families because of a disagreement with the State Government.

“Parents will be rightly disappointed and frustrated they and their children seem to have become collateral damage in the union bosses’ rush to industrial action,” Mr Lucas said.

“In fact, this has got to be one of the silliest examples of union bosses’ industrial action I have seen and ultimately, it is the children who are going to suffer.”