Serious question, do teachers really teach anything during the last week of school? Or do they just play The Lizzie McGuire Movie on repeat? Well, NSW and Catholic school teachers might be doing things differently this term. Cause they’re teaching their students that collective action and protests are an effective way of negotiating with the powers that control one’s salary.
That’s right, NSW and Catholic school teachers are going on a 24-hour strike from June 30, two days before the school term ends. This is being organised by the NSW Teachers Federation and the Independent Education Union of Australia (IEUA). These unions are teaming up to send the NSW government a strong message. The NSW Teachers Federation’s President Angelo Gavrielatos said on this matter, “Both unions have come to the conclusion that the Government has its head in the sand in regards to the teacher crisis.”
But what’s wrong with how much NSW teachers are being paid? Gavrielatos argued, “We asked the Premier to reconsider his decision to cap the pay of teachers at 3% when inflation is more than 5% and rising. Yet, he did nothing.” He also stated, “Acting on uncompetitive salaries and unsustainable workloads is the only way to stop more teachers leaving and attract the people into the profession we need to fix the shortages.”
This situation is so dire that NSW’s Catholic school teachers are jumping into this fight. The IEUA’s Mark Northam said, “Catholic diocesan school employers follow the NSW Government’s lead on salaries, even though they are not legally bound by NSW Government wages policy.” This man additionally noted, “The sharply rising cost of living, lack of real wages growth, ever-increasing workloads and the pandemic have caused crippling staff shortages in Catholic schools – our members are exhausted and burnt out. The profession is at breaking point.”
This isn’t the first teacher strike of the year. Here’s a mint article with some more info about the one that they did in March: Why Teachers Are Striking and What The Job Is Really Like
According to The Guardian, the state opposition leader, Chris Minns, is putting his weight behind the upcoming strike. “If you’re a teacher on the frontline… dedicating your life to the vocation of education, you’d be furious that the NSW government isn’t sitting down and negotiating in good faith,” said Minns. It’s worth noting though that the education minister Sarah Mitchell has stated that she went to a union meeting last week. But I guess the keywords in Minns’ statement are “in good faith.”
So, how much of a raise are these teachers asking for? The Sydney Morning Herald reported back in May that they want a raise of 5% to 7.5%. This was around the same time as the other teacher strike and a march on the NSW’s state parliament house. One of the teachers who attended this march, named Claudia Saunders, stated afterwards, “We’re not being remunerated in the way that we deserve and it’s having a huge impact on teacher burnout and teacher shortages which is felt across the community.”
As per the ABC, the latest strike will take place on the Sydney CBD’s Macquarie Street, plus in some regional ACT and NSW places. This publication also stated that this is the first-ever strike that’s been organised by both the NSW Teachers Federation and the IEUA.
Related: NSW State Budget Policies, Explained