Wednesday, November 19, 2003

WA teachers escalate industrial action

BY CHRIS LATHAM

PERTH — On November 6, the Western Australian branch executive of the Australian Education Union (AEU) announced that a 24-hour strike would be held on November 18 to support the teachers union's campaign for a new certified agreement.

The strike will be the first full-day stoppage by WA teachers for eight years, and has been called in response to the state Labor government's attempt to take the AEU into arbitration following the union's rejection of the government's second offer.

The strike has also been called in response to the government's attempt to suspend the bargaining period for a new agreement. Premier Geoff Gallop's government claims that the industrial action that is being taken by teachers in support of their campaign is disrupting and adversely affecting the schooling and education of large numbers of students.

However, the industrial relations commission has postponed any decision until a hearing on December 1-3.

Teachers are not alone in seeing their campaign for better wages and conditions being frustrated by the WA Labor government. Since October 23, members of the Liquor, Hospitality and Miscellaneous Workers Union (LHMU) who work as cleaners, gardeners and education assistants in WA schools, have been conducting work bans in support of a claim for a wage rise of 15% over two and half years.

According to Sue Lines, acting LHMU state secretary, the government has refused to negotiate with the union, but instead has sought to have the Western Australia Industrial Commission lift the bans.

Members of the Civil Service Association (CSA) have imposed bans targeting government revenue-raising as part of their campaign for a new certified agreement.

On November 7, workers in the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages issued certificates for free. According to the CSA, the public response was so overwhelming that management decided to close the doors of the registry early. Workers at the registry told the union that by midday revenue losses exceeded the registry's maximum daily takings of $5000.

From Green Left Weekly #562.

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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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