Federation welcomes Labor promise to tackle teacher shortage

Federation has welcomed NSW Labor’s pledge to tackle the statewide teacher shortage, committing to negotiate over uncompetitive wages and unsustainable workloads.

NSWTF President Angelo Gavrielatos said Labor had listened to teachers and principals about the devastating impact of the teacher shortages and what was required to fix them.

Labor announced on Thursday (6 October) that, if elected at the March state election, it will also instruct the Department of Education to immediately begin negotiations with the union … with a view to reaching a comprehensive agreement to reduce workloads and make salaries more competitive”.

The Crown Employees (Teachers in Schools and Related Employees) Salaries and Conditions Award would be reopened to reflect the agreement reached with the union.”

Leader of the Opposition Chris Minns went on to say, the excessive administration workloads of teachers cannot be allowed to continue”.

The blueprint for the change needed to rebuild and reposition the teaching service back to its rightful place is well documented in the Gallop Inquiry report.”

Mr Gavrielatos said: There is nothing more important in education than ensuring every child is taught by a qualified teacher every day, in every lesson.

Right now we have a crisis in our classrooms. Kids are missing out in public and private schools because of the shortages and teachers are burning out. Sixty per cent of teachers want to leave in the next five years because of the crippling workload and uncompetitive salaries than don’t reflect their efforts or responsibilities.

Privately the Government admits NSW is ‘facing a large and growing shortage of teachers’ and the situation is only going to get worse with rising enrolments, an ageing workforce and 30 per cent decline in the number of people studying to become a teacher.”

Labor’s announcement comes as the Department’s Award application is due to be heard before the Industrial Relations Commission in the first week of term 4 on Wednesday, 12 October.

In its statement the Opposition said: The ongoing attempt by the Government to impose a three-year Award on teachers at 2.53 per cent on teachers while also failing to act on the excessive workloads experienced by teachers is wrong and will make an already bad situation worse.

We will listen to teachers and we will work with the union to address the teacher

shortages and the crippling workloads that are forcing more and more people to walk

away from the profession.”

Mr Gavrielatos said the bottom line was that the teacher shortage crisis will not be resolved without fixing the workload and wages problem.

The question every parent and teacher will want answered in March is this: which party is going to stop the teacher shortages and secure the teachers we need for the future,” he said.

Labor’s commitment to scrap the salary cap and engage in genuine negotiations to lift salaries and reduce workloads shows a recognition of the true causes of the teacher shortages and what is needed to stop them.

It is about tailoring a solution for teachers, not a one-size-fits-all salary cap.

The Perrottet Government last week admitted teachers’ salaries were uncompetitive but next week it wants to lock in a real wage cut for all teachers in the Industrial Relations Commission. Its plan to lift the salary of an unknown number of teachers is so half-baked it can’t say who would get more or how much they would be paid. The Premier calls it performance pay but the Minister says it isn’t.

The best it can do on crippling workloads contributing to the exodus of teachers is meaningless targets when teachers are working 55 to 60 hours a week and the Minister admits they are drowning in paperwork.

The consequences of failing to act on unsustainable workloads and uncompetitive salaries are that the Perrottet Government has recruited two teachers in a year under its ‘supply strategy’ and is getting so desperate it wants to cut standards and bring unqualified teachers into the classroom.”