There’s power in withdrawing your labour

The Department of Education cannot ignore us when we are strong, says casual teacher and Federation Life Member Terry Moriarty.

“We need to be in a strong position, where the Department understands that we can deliver industrial action and will do it.

“I used to love going to Wentworth Park where you’d be among 10 to 20 thousand people,” Terry said. “It was always rousing and you felt a sense of solidarity. Then we’d march to Macquarie Street.”

He also recalls with nostalgia the public education rally that filled in Domain in 1988 and teachers throwing copies of the Department’s salaries offer over the fence into the grounds of NSW Parliament in 1999.

“I can remember how wonderful it was being there.”

“Often the strike action would get a good result,” he said. “It cemented my view that industrial action is required.”

Terry took his first strike action during a salaries dispute in the 1970s. He said he was aware that the first strike action in 1968, before he began teaching, had improved working conditions.

“I was willing to go on strike because the Department wasn’t going to give us anything if we didn’t take strong action. My courage came from the knowledge that Federation members were all in it together and we were following the direction of a registered trade union. Teachers Federation would be there for me,” he said.

“There’s power in withdrawing your labour,” Terry added. “It shows people that teachers are necessary.”

“My current concerns for the profession include teachers’ exhausting workload,” Terry said.

“The Gallop report hit the nail on the head: teachers are tired, overworked and not appreciated by the Department.

“The pay is not enough to attract people to the profession,” he added. “I feel exasperated. We’ve been saying what’s needed to support the profession for a long time.

“Parents are on our side now, but the Government doesn’t want to hear it.”

Terry believes if teachers want the rewards of the salaries and conditions achieved by the union’s More Than Thanks campaign then all members should get behind the decisions of their elected representatives and support any action called for by the union.