Teachers to strike over workload, salaries, and shortages 

NSW public school teachers and principals will strike on Tuesday December 7 over the Government’s failure to address unsustainable workloads and uncompetitive salaries which are contributing to growing shortages of teachers. 

Federation President Angelo Gavrielatos said the Federation’s Council has voted unanimously for the 24 hour stoppage at a meeting in Sydney this morning.  

“This will be the first 24 hour stoppage in a decade and it reflects the gravity of the situation we find ourselves in,” Mr Gavrielatos said. 

A statewide advertising campaign will also be stepped up with TV, radio and print advertisements focused on the failure of the government to fix the teacher shortages. 

The resolution of this dispute is now in the hands of Premier Perrottet. 

“The Perrottet Government is refusing to listen to the warnings of its own education department that the unsustainable workloads and uncompetitive salaries of teachers are contributing to growing shortages and turning people off teaching. 

“This is about the future of the teaching profession and the quality of education children receive. No student should miss out because of a lack of teachers, but this is what is going to increasingly happen across NSW if the government fails to act. 

“Principals and teachers don’t take this decision lightly. Over the course of the last 18 months we have exhausted all options available to us to arrive at a negotiated settlement with the government.   

“But the government’s position has been fixed from day 1. They won’t budge from a one-size-fits- all 2.5% wages cap despite their own education department’s warning that teacher shortages exist because other careers pay more competitive salaries. 

“Every year teachers have been asked to do more and every year their salary has fallen compared to other professions.

“The Perrottet Government won’t increase the preparation time of all teachers despite their own survey showing only one third of teachers have the time to do their job well. The time teachers have for planning and preparation outside the classroom hasn’t increased since the 1980s for primary teachers and the 1950s for secondary teachers. 

“The number of vacant permanent positions in schools has increased by 80% since June and the Education Minister was warned in July that NSW is facing “a large and growing shortage of teachers”. 

“The Perrottet Government doesn’t seem to care that the shortages are so bad that one in five teachers are teaching outside their subject area. 

“If you don’t care about teacher shortages, you don’t care about kids missing out. 

“We are facing a perfect storm: plummeting new graduate numbers, rising enrolments, an ageing workforce which spell out acute teacher shortages. The situation is so bad the education department warned last year NSW could run out of teachers in five years. 

“The Premier wants to be known as a family premier – well this is a major test of his commitment to the children of NSW and the teachers they rely on.”  

The industrial Award that determines the salaries and conditions of teachers expires in December. In line with the recommendations of the  independent Gallop inquiry, teachers and principals are seeking a salary increase of between 5 to 7.5 per cent a year to recognise the increase in their skills and expertise and begin to reverse the decline in teachers’ wages compared to other professions. 

An increase in preparation time of two hours a week is also sought to allow teachers more time for lesson planning and collaboration with their colleagues.