United we bargain, divided we beg

“We’d had enough,” said casual teacher member Denise Walker, reflecting on what motivated her and her Kiama colleagues back in 1988 to travel to Sydney to be part of a march down Macquarie Street and a rally in the Domain to reject the Greiner/Metherell government’s attack on public education.

“It was a great atmosphere, teachers from all over the state coming together as one,she said. “We felt a sense of strength.

I think it hit the government fairly well in the stomach,” she added.

Denise has worked at least a few days of each year since 1964, including the year she was treated for breast cancer. She was on maternity leave when the first one-day strike was held on 1 October 1968 but says she’s always supported Federation’s stopwork meetings and strikes when she’s been due to work.

There’s a sticker on a filing cabinet at Wauchope High which says, United we bargain and divided we beg’ and I love it.

She said joining in a stopwork meeting or strike action makes a statement to the government: ‘Listen to us, please.

“I don’t care about the lost pay; it’s for the future. It’s the kids’ education I care about and to get good conditions for students, you need good conditions for teachers.

Earlier this year Denise joined staff at Wauchope High School who walked off the job over the NSW Government’s failure to properly staff their school and other public schools in rural and remote parts of the state.

The running down of the public education system is demoralising to teachers. The Government need to look seriously at the problem.