Unions meet as education crisis ramps up

Friday, 17 June, 2022

Unions meet as education crisis ramps up

The executive of two education unions have now met to discuss the NSW Government’s salary cap.

Both the Independent Education Union of Australia’s NSW/ACT Branch and the NSW Teachers Federation convened to determine an appropriate response to the policy.

On 6 June, the NSW Government offered a 3% pay increase to public sector workers, including teachers, in 2022–23. However, public sector unions and their members have rejected the revised policy as it fails to stop the dramatic decline in real wages.

“The policy does nothing to address unsustainable workloads or staffing shortages,” said IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Secretary Mark Northam.

“It still represents a real pay cut for school staff while keeping workloads at unsustainable levels.”

As a result of the executive meetings, an historic joint meeting of the NSW Teachers Federation and the IEUA NSW/ACT will convene on 21 June to consider pay offers contained in the NSW Budget and from Catholic employers and determine an appropriate course of action.

“This is an extraordinary moment,” said IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Secretary Mark Northam.

“We are standing shoulder-to-shoulder — fixing the education crisis in NSW demands no less.

“The profession is at breaking point. Staff shortages and sinking salaries mean teachers and support staff are really struggling. The COVID pandemic didn’t cause this but it has certainly exacerbated it.”

Since January, the IEU has been negotiating with Catholic employers for new enterprise agreements for teachers and support staff in Catholic diocesan schools.

While the IEU is subject to federal industrial relations laws, the state wages policy has a direct impact on these negotiations, a point emphasised by Catholic employer representatives in all bargaining meetings. “Not a cent more, nor a day before,” is their long-standing refrain.

The union’s key claims, so far unaddressed by employers, include:

  • Pay teachers what they’re worth
  • Give support staff a fair deal
  • Let teachers teach — cut paperwork
  • Allow time to plan — reduce the teaching load by two hours per week
  • End staffing shortages

Members in 540 Catholic systemic schools already conducted a full-day stop work on Friday, 27 May.

“I fully support the combined unions’ executive meeting,” said IEUA NSW/ACT Branch President Christine Wilkinson.

“In the face of increasing workloads, teachers and support staff are completely exhausted and need the employers to recognise and act on the extreme pressures they’re facing.”

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Jandrie Lombard

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