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Teachers union rejects ‘olive branch’ as strike proceeds in Newcastle

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The NSW Teachers Federation has rejected an “olive branch” from the government and will proceed with strike action in Newcastle today.

Even though the Premier indicated there would be “movement”, in regards to the public sector wage cap, in next month’s state budget, union members throughout the Hunter are still expected to converge on Newcastle City Hall from 9.30am on Wednesday 4 May.

The union’s senior vice-president, Amber Flohm, visited the region yesterday, stating Dominic Perrottet had failed students, their parents and the teaching profession.

“One of the most fundamental roles of a government is to ensure there is a qualified teacher in every classroom with the time and support to meet the needs of each child,” she said.

“But, the current shortage has created a crisis.

“As of February, there were a total of 2,383 permanent vacancies across 1,251 schools in NSW.

“The Department of Education’s own figures showed there were an incredible 114 vacant teaching positions in the electorates of Newcastle, Maitland, Wallsend, Charlestown and Port Stephens, last October, alone.

“Acting on uncompetitive salaries and unsustainable workloads is the only way to stop more teachers leaving and attract the people into the profession we need to fix the shortages.

“This is an investment in our future.”

A recent poll of Newcastle teachers found:

  • 74% say their workload is unmanageable;
  • 73% are reconsidering their position due to workload;
  • 89% disagree that their pay reflects their expertise and responsibilities;
  • 85% say shortages are very significant; and
  • 30% say they are currently teaching out of area.

NSW Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos also weighed in on the issue.

“It was revealed [today] that the government is questioning whether teachers need formal qualifications in the subject they teach,” he said.

“Where NSW once led the country in strengthening qualifications and standards, it is now leading the decline.

“The government now intends to make the school children of tomorrow pay for the neglect of sound policy and planning by the politicians of today.

“The Premier and The Nationals cannot be allowed to take a low road approach of reducing standards instead of an addressing the real causes of shortages – uncompetitive salaries and unsustainable workloads.

“The simple truth is that if we don’t pay teachers what they are worth and address crippling workloads, we will not retain nor attract the teachers we know we need.

“The time for spin and gimmickry has long passed.”

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