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  Issue No 38 Official Organ of LaborNet 05 November 1999  





The Boston Strangler

By Sue Simpson - NSW Teachers Federation

If the teachers' salaries "offer" had been any good, John Aquilina, the Minister for Good News Only, would have made the announcement and been seen to promote it.

Instead he kept out of the public gaze even though he was present at briefings the Department gave primary and secondary principals, district superintendents and institute managers just before the offer was posted on the Department of Education and Training's website.

The "offer" must be rejected because it does nothing to enhance the salaries and status of the teaching profession. The profession will be no more attractive to young graduates to join or for older teachers to stay. It does not eliminate the gap in salaries between teachers in public schools and teachers in the 300 or so schools covered by the Association of Independent Schools Award and Christian Brothers schools, all of whom receive Government funding. For casual teachers, the rates in private schools are still superior.

Teachers, like all workers, want to have decent salaries, superannuation and security in employment. On salaries, the offer is in effect a cut, given the projected inflation figures for the next 12 months of between two and three per cent. Other states are fast surpassing NSW. Salary increases for Northern Territory teachers and negotiations proceeding in Queensland will have their teachers become the highest paid Government teachers in Australia.

The offer is reminiscent of Kennett's Victoria. It stamps the practices of the business world on public education. It means doing away with regulations built up over years to protect the innocent and less powerful from exploitation -- so, no prescription of period loads in secondary schools and no regulation of the school day in primary schools.

Career paths are thrown away in favour of flat structures and the boss' s largesse in distributing positions of responsibility. Hence the executive teacher position is abolished in favour of an allowance to be allocated by the principal. In the business world of competition, job insecurity in the form of limited contracts is the norm -- hence five year contracts for secondary principals. Pay is determined by supervisor-conducted performance appraisals.

The "offer" is about fulfilling a Government's obsession with doing more with less. "Flexibility" is to suit the employer and not the employee. Integrating the schools and TAFE awards is not so much about the new vocational education agenda as the means to reduce TAFE teachers' salaries to those of school teachers and to introduce a wider span of hours into schools. It is about getting the lowest common denominator in the two sectors.

It's also about taking the "teacher" out of education. Principals are encouraged to be more the managerial class with fewer holidays. Careers advisers, school counsellors and home school liaison officers are no longer classified as teachers in a system that no longer prescribes agreed qualifications. This makes their services far more vulnerable to privatisation and outsourcing.

For TAFE teachers it is all about saying you must accept the inferior conditions of Kennett's Victoria if you are to survive. The Government is seeking to absolve itself of responsibility for properly funding and supporting a quality public education system.

The "offer" is hardly surprising given the Premier's keenness to distance himself from the union movement and his statement that there is no "heritage order" on the public sector. With no money being allocated for public sector salary increases in the State Budget, restructuring was always going to take prominence over salary in the Government's mind. This does not make it acceptable.

The manner in which the "offer" was presented is further proof that the Carr Government treats unions and public sector workers with contempt. The Government's excuse that Federation had to finalise new teacher efficiency procedures and school reviews as a pre-condition for the commencement of salary negotiations has been exposed as simply an excuse to delay the commencement of negotiations. Winning the morning's media is more important than good manners or any openness and transparency in dealings, so the "offer" is announced by media release. Ken Boston gets first grab at the media comments with his script well prepared. Then the Minister and the Director-General attempt to get the interest groups onside -- make them feel special. So the night before the offer was announced, members of the Primary and Secondary Principals Councils get summoned to meetings in Bridge Street.

These organisations were briefed even before Federation had been able to download its copy from the website. The P&C are also called to a meeting. There was no openness and transparency with Federation. It's all part of modern union busting.

But modern managers still do not win the hearts and minds. Kennett was defeated. This "offer" has outraged every group in teaching because its philosophy of business is so alien.

For teachers, being "modern" means insisting on job security, opposing employer definitions of "flexibility" in favour of policies that genuinely recognise the need to balance work, family and community life. At times of increasing casualisation with employers appealing to global competition, it is in the interests of teachers to be maintaining regulation of workload limits.

Teachers reject this offer and the business view of teachers' work that underpins it. Demonstrate your opposition by attending the Sky Channel meeting in your area.


*    For more details on the teachers' pay dispute, click here

*   View entire issue - print all of the articles!

*   Issue 38 contents

In this issue
*  Interview: Peter Reith
We�ve fought him for the last four years, perhaps it�s time to try to understand him.
*  Education: The Boston Strangler
If the teachers' salaries "offer" had been any good, John Aquilina, the Minister for Good News Only, would have made the announcement and been seen to promote it.
*  Economics: Key Indicators
A new ILO publication provides real cross national comparisons which show that Australian workplaces rate very well on productivity, wages and non wage measures
*  Unions: Dili's Union Presence
The International Federation of Journalists� Safety Office for the Media in East Timor (SOMET) is conducting an investigation into the recent killings of two journalists in East Timor.
*  History: Maritime Dispute Records
A Joint ACTU � ASSLH project will identify and preserve as many records as possible arising from the 1997-98 Maritime Dispute.
*  International: Western Mining into Guns and Gold
An Australian mining company, Western Mining Company Limited (WMCL), has effectively won the support of the Philippines army in its battle with traditional owners in Southern Mindano.
*  Satire: Gay Scientists Isolate Christian Gene
Gay scientists today released a study which, they claim, at last identifies the �Christian Gene".
*  Labour Review: What's New in the Information Centre
View the latest issue of Labour Review, our resource for students, delegates and officials.

»  Reith : Directly Elect the ACTU President Too
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»  Bankstown Students Win Union Support
»  Workers to Use AGM to Call Telstra to Account
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»  POSITION VACANT - APHEDA, Union Aid Abroad.

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»  Piers Watch

Letters to the editor
»  Lines of Demarcation
»  Referendum? No Dam(n) Choice!
»  With Friends Like These ...
»  Get Real

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