|Issue No 40||19 November 1999|
Contracts Fear as Teachers Sidelined
NSW unions have warned that Carr Government moves to deal directly with teachers are the first step towards individual contracts for the state's public servants.
Acting Labor Council secretary John Robertson sounded the warning as an estimated 25,000 striking teachers rallied outside the gates of State Parliament in anger at the Labor Government's handling of the dispute.
"The approach of the Labor Government should be a warning to all public servants" Robertson said. "It is the first step on the road to individual contracts."
Education minister John Aquilina was dubbed the 'Terry Metherell of the Nineties' after the Department bypassed the Teachers Federation to send its pay offer directly to the homes of teachers.
Thousands of teachers made their reply to the offer at the rally, by dumping the draft award on the Parliament's forecourt.
Robertson said the Minister had been captured by bureaucrats and was not listening to parents or teachers about the need to properly fund public education.
"The Minister has sought to present you as the villains,' he said. "the real villains are on the other side of the fence."
Aquilina, Boston Should Go
The striking public school teachers have called on Aquilina and his departmental chief Ken Boston to resign claiming they had misled the public in the lead-up to Thursday's statewide strike.
Teachers' official Barry Sexton produced documents directly contradicting statements from Aquilina that school principals had not been intimidated into opposing the industrial action.
Sexton produced a fax from Education Department head Ken Boston, directing principals to defy the strike action and keep schools open.
"Either the Minister has lied or he is completely out of touch with what is happening in his portfolio," he told the rally.
The government outraged teachers when it attempted to bypass the union and deal directly with teachers by posting its proposed pay deal on the internet and sending it to teachers' homes. This was after refusing to discuss wages and conditions with the union for 15 months.
Under the government's proposed award, full-time teachers would have received pay rises of just four per cent over four years - less than the rate of inflation - while casual teachers would have actually received a $44 per month pay cut.
The teachers had the backing of the Parents and Citizens Association as well as Opposition and cross-bench MPs who combined to condemn that government's handling of the dispute.
In a bizarre twist, Opposition leader Kerry Chikarovski publicly called on the Carr government to recognise the Teachers Federation and deal with it.
Chikarovski told ABC radio she could understand the Teacher's frustration with the Minister's refusal to meet with them and called on Carr to begin meaningful talks.
More Action in Public and Private Schools
This week's stoppage will be followed by a series of rolling strikes in public schools in the lead-up to Christmas, as well as stoppages next week in 500 Catholic Schools.
Independent Education Union state secretary Patrick Lee says his members are also affected by the Government's handling of teachers' pay because their salary levels are linked to their public sector colleagues.
Lee says the Carr government's provocative attitude to teachers and current proposals are the worst offered by any State Government in decades - including the work of Jeff Kennett in Victoria and Terry Metherell in this state in the late eighties.
Teachers Federation president Sue Simpson later thanked the Labor Council and affiliates for their support of the strike. A long line of union leaders from across the factions attended the rally, with Robertson promising Labor Council's ongoing support.
What to let off a bit of Aquilina Anger? Go to Deface a Face and go wild!
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Politics: East Timor: Defeat or Victory for the Left?
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International: Kiwi Unions Rebuild from Ground Up
After fifteen years as a right wing laboratory New Zealand is about to change tack. New NZCTU chief Paul Goulter outlines the challenge ahead.
Satire: Australian Democrats Revealed as Student Hoax
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Review: The Best of the Best
Once again Channel Nine has out done itself with it’s new Ray Martin program “Simply the Best”.
Labour Review: What's New at the Information Centre
View the latest issue of Labour review, our resource for officials and students.
Deface a Face: 25,000 Teachers Can’t Be Wrong!
Angry teachers yesterday voted overwhelmingly for Education minister John Aquilina to take the mantle of this week’s face to deface.
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Last Modified: 15 Nov 2005