Strike two for government offer

ONE MORE TIME: Members of the Australian Education Union SA Branch gathered in Mount Gambier/Berrin once more to cry out for more aid to teachers, as pressure continues to mount for the industry. Picture: TYLER REDWAY

Tyler Redway

MOUNT Gambier/Berrin’s streets heard the chants of distressed teachers once again after a second Australian Education Union (AEU) strike was held last Thursday.

The second strike was a response to the most recent offer made by the state government as negotiations continue.

While the offer would have seen teachers given a pay rise, it failed to address the primary concerns of time allocation to administration tasks and extra School Services Officers (SSOs).

Lower South East AEU member Matthew Key said it was clear there was no real movement to where the union was before and in some cases, the most recent offer could potentially put some teachers behind again.

“In real terms, the pay increase has actually decreased from the amount which teachers would be earning over the next three years,” Mr Key said.

“It’s clear they are not taking us seriously, so we need to take some action to ensure our collective voices are heard to demand a better deal.

“We had initially gone on strike because we were concerned we had an offer which was far behind other public servants and certainly far behind other politicians with their pay rises.

Mr Key said he was incredibly disappointed by the offer put on the table and was “quite optimistic” the AEU would have reached a deal which could have ended the protests by the end of the year.

He said he was “heartened” by the turnout for the second strike, which he said took further steps in ensuring the teaching profession could be sustainable.

“The fact we have a worse offer on the table compared to where we were, it just shows the lack of respect toward the profession,” Mr Key said.

“What we are showing with the consistent numbers out here is that we are happy to be in this for the long haul and I think the government would have been happy for us to try and wrap it up before Christmas and walk away, which is what they have tried to do in the past.

“The fact we are out here and are just as passionate shows we are going to wait this out for as long as we need to in order to get the best deal which actually supports public education in South Australia.”

Mr Key said while the second strike had been organised in the middle of the Year 12 exam period, it was made clear by the South Australian Certificate of Education Board it would have little to no impact on students themselves.

“It feels like the only people who are saying anything about the disruption to exams are not the parents, the students or the teachers but it is actually Blair Boyer and Peter Malinauskas,” he said.

“You don’t require your regular everyday teacher to be there, but with that being said we have had a number of teachers making decisions around how they can also take part in this action, while supporting the exams.”

Mount Gambier teacher Nick Tubb said he has had to choose between being a good father or a good teacher, in which he could not be both due to the state of the education industry.

Mr Tubb said the overwhelming workload also affected the way one of his children perceived him.

“The current state of education is actually disgusting, there are not enough teachers or time and we are beyond a crisis point,” Mr Tubb said.

“I have had to basically take a step back from being the most powerful teacher I can be to actually spend time with my family properly.

“When my kid was three years old, they introduced me as ‘this is my daddy, he teaches marking’ and it absolutely crushed me how that was my child’s experience of what I do.”

Mr Tubb said while he hated strike action, it was the only way to put a message out there for the industry at this point in time.

“The government knows exactly how to fix it and as someone has already said, we know the science and the psychology behind it because it has been done, but we just don’t follow evidence based practice,” he said.

“You can’t have a world class education model without the proper funding to back it up, so the model has slowly disappeared into the background.

“What we are doing isn’t working, there are people leaving the profession every day there are so many people saying they have been a teacher for 30 years or so but can’t handle it anymore and need to leave.”