Wednesday, January 28, 2004

WA teachers to vote on new agreement

WA teachers to vote on new agreement
By Chris Latham

On January 16, the Western Australian branch of the Australian Education Union indicated that it will recommend acceptance of a new offer negotiated between the AEU and the state education department for a certified agreement (CA).

While the new offer gives some staff wage increases of up to 14% over three years, this applies predominantly to teachers in administrative positions; the majority of teachers will receive 9.2% over three years, only a slight increase of the original offer of 9% and well short of AEU's claim of 30%.

However, throughout the campaign the AEU executive had said it was willing to accept a lower wage rise in return for movement on other key concerns of members. These included the time allocated to duties other than teaching (DOTT) for primary teachers, class sizes and measures to encourage the retention of graduate teachers in the public education system.

The new offer will increase DOTT for primary teachers by 20 minutes in 2005, and commits the department to make further increases in the next and future CAs to move towards equity with secondary teachers.

The offer also allows for reduction in class sizes to 28 students for year 8 and year 9 classes in 30 schools, adding to the 45 high schools included in the 2000 CA. Similar class reductions will occur for years 4-7 in 200 primary schools over 2004 and 2005.

The offer also provides for reductions in the teaching loads for lower level administrative staff.

A January 16 AEU press release stated that the executive "considers that this agreement delivers an acceptable response to members' concerns about working conditions including class sizes".

However, a number of rank-and-file AEU members have told Green Left Weekly that they felt that these gains may not outweigh the concession made on wages, particularly considering the industrial activity taken by AEU members, including the half-day and full-day stoppages in September and November.

They noted that a number of the elements that are now seen as acceptable by the executive in the new offer, particularly primary DOTT, have not moved forward on the department's September offer.

AEU members will vote on the new CA in the early weeks of first term, which begins on February 2.

From Green Left Weekly #568.


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