Teachers turn up the dial on Minns Government 

Members fed up with NSW Labor’s failure to act decisively on teacher salaries, the teacher shortage and excessive workloads expressed their anger at a rally held outside Premier Chris Minns’ electorate office at Kogarah yesterday (Thursday). 

The rally was the latest in a series of rallies held since NSW Labor withdrew from a deal to vary the existing schools award and offer competitive salaries, instead offering an inferior four-year award that would introduce a 2.5 per cent cap on pay increases.  

Locals witness member anger over Labor’s broken promise 

“The general public watched us. Some passing pedestrians even applauded us,” said Fed Rep at Sydney Technical High School Lisa Rebeiro. 

“The rally was important, so the Minns Government knows we will hold them to account and we are not going anywhere. It is also important for the general public to see local teachers on their streets, standing up for each other and the students in our schools and communities.” 

Lisa said she feels “disgusted” and “betrayed” by the Minns Government reneging on the Heads of Agreement. “The Minns Government and its MPs made promises and they have broken them. They must honour this agreement to build back trust with the teaching profession. Our profession and students are depending on it.” 

Hurstville South Public School’s Fed Rep Linda Blake said she went to the rally because it was “really important that the Government understands just how betrayed we feel”. “I was at my local polling station handing out cards for over two hours on election day, helping to defeat the former Liberal state government. I did that because I believed a Labor state government would be different. I am furious that they have broken faith and to add insult to injury they want to tie us to three years at 2.5 per cent, the exact same amount the Liberal government was tying us to! They are undoing the good work of the negotiated first year of the agreement. It also makes a mockery of Prue Car’s address to us on staff development day; it now seems meaningless. How can we trust them? I’m so angry.” 

‘We cannot stand by in silence’ 

Lisa said it was important for teachers to work with each other to hold the Minns Government to account. “We cannot stand by in silence.” She encouraged members to attend local Honour The Deal rallies, to bring the issue to the attention of local communities. “It cannot be ignored when in plain sight,” she said. “It is action designed to hold the Minns Government to account. It is important to continue to be seen and heard as members of our union. We are stronger together in numbers that cannot be ignored, even on local streets.” 

Linda said if members don’t attend rallies, the government would think teachers don’t care. “That will only lead to further attrition and further problems staffing our schools. It’s so important that we send the message of just how angry we are and how important it is to get this deal right.” 

Teacher resolve strengthens 

The chorus is getting louder with every protest, fuelled by increased member participation. At the Kogarah rally, Federation members were joined by members of the Independent Education Union of Australia NSW/ACT Branch (IEU), who also have an interest in the outcome of the salaries dispute. IEU members have been campaigning for the Minns Government to #TakeTeacherPaySeriously. Almost 3500 emails have been sent to the NSW Premier and Education Minister, via an IEU email petition, demanding the NSW Government come back to the negotiating table on teacher pay. On 30 June 2022 IEU members working in Catholic schools joined with Federation members in marching to NSW Parliament House to protest government inaction on just salaries, unsustainable workloads and the teacher shortage. 

Federation President Henry Rajendra told the Kogarah crowd the teacher shortage meant teachers were dealing with unsustainable workloads and were at risk of burnout. “This problem is getting worse and our kids deserve better. The fastest and best way to tackle this crisis is for the government to pay teachers what they’re worth. It’s not too late to revive and honour the agreement the government made.” 

He said teachers would continue to exert maximum political pressure on the Government and Federation Council would meet on 9 September to decide whether to escalate action further. 

Quick ways to contribute to the campaign 

The more teachers who take these simple Honour The Deal campaign actions, the stronger the message to NSW Labor will be that members are determined to see the Government honour and implement the agreement: 

  • Join the more than 13,000 members who have already emailed a Labor MP, Deputy Premier and Education Minister Prue Car, Treasurer Daniel Mookhey and Premier Chris Minns, calling on the Government to honour the negotiated agreement and vary the Award to deliver these changes on day 1 of term 4 (9 October). It’s easy, using this email template.  
  • Take a photo with your colleagues holding Honour The Deal posters and share it on social media, along with the hashtag #HonourTheDeal.