Wednesday, July 28, 2004

WA teachers reject five-year contracts

By Chris Latham

On July 22, Australian Education Union WA school representatives condemned state education minister Allan Carpenter for planned unilateral changes to teachers' working conditions.

On July 8, two days prior to the end of second term, Carpenter announced that the WA Labor government intended to introduce five-year contracts for teachers and principals in public schools. From 2005, all teachers with metropolitan appointments will face being shifted to a new school at the end of their contract.

The changes will also allow administrative staff deemed by the education department to be underperforming to be demoted, and will give greater autonomy to principals in the hiring and firing of teachers.

Carpenter has argued that the changes will increase the ability of teachers with country appointments to transfer back to Perth, encouraging graduate teachers to move to country positions.

A July 22 AEU meeting resolution said that Carpenter's "actions constitute an unacceptable attack on the quality of teaching in government schools, on the certified agreement and on the teaching workforce".

According to the AEU, the changes will have little benefit for country teachers. Instead, they will result in increased uncertainty for both teachers and schools in the metropolitan area with regular upheavals through staffing changes — a problem already experienced in WA's country schools.

The AEU has threatened to launch a political and industrial campaign if the government persists with the proposed changes.

From Green Left Weekly #591.


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