Wednesday, October 1, 2003

WA teachers rally for public education

By Chris Latham

PERTH — On September 24, 500 angry public school teachers rallied outside the Western Australian parliament to demand that Premier Geoff Gallop's Labor government agree to the log of claims their union has put to the government.

Singing "Wake up Geoff", the teachers demanded that Gallop, treasurer Eric Ripper and education minister Alan Carpenter face the rally. However, no representative of the government was willing to either address the rally or listen to the demands of the teachers.

Australian Education Union state secretary Dave Kelly reported to the rally on a meeting between the AEU's negotiating committee and the state education department over the government's new offer for a certified agreement with the teachers. Kelly said that while the new offer was a "step in the right direction", there were three outstanding matters that meant the union's executive could not endorse it.

These were around the offered wage increase, primary school teachers' duties other than teaching (DOTT) and class sizes. The government is now offering a wage increase to teachers of 9.27% over 30 months. This would amount to a 1% increase in real wages.

The government proposes the primary school teachers' DOTT be increased by 20 minutes to 200 minutes per week, which falls well short of the claim of 320 minutes DOTT to achieve equity with secondary teachers. The government does not address the need to reduce class sizes.

Kelly told the rally that the AEU branch executive would discuss an escalation of "industrial action to bring a firm agreement home for educators across the state".

WA AEU vice-president Mike Keely announced that the government had dropped its push for a flat pay rate for casual teachers. Such a flat rate would have represented a pay cut for more experienced teachers.

From Green Left Weekly #556.

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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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