All the way to the ballot box

Members were out in force on 12 October as part of a Day of Action protesting the Perrottet Government’s imposition of a real wage cut and failure to act on workload.

Social media was awash with photographs of members wearing red, to signify their disgust with the Government.

The failures of the Perrottet Government were outlined in a letter distributed to parents and carers.

In a number of Coalition held electorates members rallied outside the offices of their local MPs.

Members in Greater Western Sydney rallied outside the Industrial Relations Commission before school, the day the Government’s application to impose a three-year award at 2.53 per cent per annum on the teaching service was heard.

That the Government and its department are attempting to ram through a three year award that will result in teachers suffering a real wage cut and continuing to be crippled by unsustainable workloads speaks volumes of their contempt for the teaching service.

While our campaign has elevated the teacher shortage to a top tier issue in the public domain, the Perrottet Government remains unwilling to deliver solutions to the crisis it has created.

We can no longer separate ourselves from the upcoming election. We must make our issues an election issue, to ensure they are the determining factors for the people in marginal seats, where it will all be decided in March 2023.

We must put pressure on every single candidate to reveal their personal commitment to fixing the teacher shortages and securing the teachers we need for the future. We need to know how they’ll address the causes of the shortages – unsustainable workloads and uncompetitive salaries – and we need to know what they’ll do about our underfunded public schools.

Labor leader Chris Minns has provided a written commitment that if his party wins the state election in March 2023, the wages cap will be scrapped, the Department instructed to engage in genuine negotiation to lift salaries and decrease workloads. “This can be achieved, if necessary, with the assistance of an independent Industrial Relations Commission who will have the capacity to assess salaries based on the changing nature of teachers’ work and its value to our society,” wrote Minns, adding that the award would be reopened to reflect this outcome.

On 16 October, just days after our Day of Action, the NSW ALP made an in-principle commitment to convert 10,000 temporary teachers to permanent positions.

In a cynical manoeuvre, withing 12 hours the Government made a similar announcement.

The NSW Government has spent 10 years creating the problem of insecure work. Federation has time and time again, presented solutions to the Government and the Department, but they have dismissed every approach.

Teacher shortages need a comprehensive solution. Reducing the number of temporary teachers is part of that. Labor is going in the right direction with a commitment to address unsustainable workloads and uncompetitive salaries. The Government is not; every year workloads have risen and every year salaries have fallen compared to other professions.