Wednesday, September 24, 2003

8000 teachers rally in Perth

By Chris Latham

PERTH — Eight thousand members of the Australian Education Union (AEU) attended a vibrant stop work meeting at Subiaco Oval on September 17, as part of a half-day stoppage to win a 30% pay rise over the next three years. Hundreds of AEU members also met throughout regional WA to discuss the union's industrial campaign.

The teachers attending the rally were in a defiant mood, following the hostile media statements made by education minister Alan Carpenter prior to the strike. These statements included urging teachers to "call off this totally unnecessary strike" and telling the media on September 9 that the AEU's state executive had endorsed the government's offer.

The stop-work was addressed by UnionsWA secretary Stephanie Mayman, AEU national president Pat Byrne and AEU (WA) general secretary David Kelly.

Mayman told the teachers that they had the "full support of public and private sector unions across Western Australia, in your fight for what is a fair resolution".

Byrne pointed out that the government had been elected on a platform of supporting quality public education, but, with the current wage offer of 9% over two and half years, would only provide wage maintenance as the "consumer price index indicates that for 2003 inflation in Western Australia was 2.9%. [The state government] can genuinely seen by the electorate as reneging on its platform.

"Given also the billion dollar deals in the Pilbara being made; the GST benefits to state governments starting to kick in and the fact that this state's economy has grown by 9.3% during the last twelve months, public sector workers have every right to be cynical. Three per cent is treading water", she added.

The WA government's offer includes a pay cut for relief teachers, incredibly given the teacher shortge makes relief teachers hard to find.

The AEU (WA) branch executive moved resolutions that: condemned the government's intransigence and failure to provide an offer that addresses teacher shortages; rejected the present offer from the government; empowered the AEU (WA) branch leadership to continue negotiations; initiated further industrial action, which will begin in term 4; empowered the executive, in the event of the government moving to suspend the bargaining period, to begin a political campaign to achieve adequate resourcing for public education and called a protest rally outside state parliament for 4pm September 24.
From Green Left Weekly #555

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Revitalising Labour attempts to reflect on efforts to rebuild the labour movement internationally, emphasising the role that left-wing political currents can play in this process. It welcomes contributions on union struggles, internal renewal processes within the labour movement and the struggle against capitalism and imperialism.

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