Unprecedented numbers of teachers strike

Prior to the election, then-opposition leader Ted Baillieu promised that Victoria’s teachers would be the best paid in the nation – which, in hindsight was a rather rash promise. As I wrote yesterday, politician’s promises aren’t reliable, but to go from that to the actual offer he’s put forth now that the Victorian teachers EBA’s up for renegotiation is pitiful – in exchange for the standard 2.5% pay offer that is Baillieu policy, he’s put forward a number of wholly untenable proposals that include a competitive pay-for-performance program that would reduce collegiality and cooperation, mandatory annual job losses for the lowest 10% of performers, and yearly contracts for new teachers – which means no job stability, credit difficulty an inability to get mortgages, and which does little to retain the next generation of teachers. Incidentally, exactly how performance will be assessed doesn’t seem to be decided yet.

In response, Victoria’s public teachers went on strike yesterday, in unprecedented numbers. They filled Hisense Arena beyond capacity, with some 500 teachers having to wait outside before their colleagues joined them on a march to Parliament House

Some of the thousands-strong teachers protest march from Hisense Arena to Parliament House – photo via Facebook (Victorian AEU home page)

. Welcomed to the seat of Victorian politics by the Opposition leader, Daniel Andrews, and his colleagues, and by ANF staff and members, the teachers were a sea of black-accented red. After a rap reprise (“Bailllieu, Baillieu, he’s going to fail you – he’s the worst Premier in all of Australia”) the teachers were addressed first by Victorian Trades Hall Council Secretary Brian Boyd, then ANF (Vic branch) Secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick, and finally by their own leader, AEU (Vic branch) Secretary Mary Bluett.

Lisa Fitzpatrick (foreground) and Mary Bluett…

two strong, determined, united women, dedicated to the best interests of their members and the public they serve –

if I were the Premier I’d be reconsidering my position and negotiating in actual good faith.

And then, instead of going home, doing some study, and visiting my post-operative father in hospital, I went to the pub with some colleagues, got chatting to some teachers, and managed to have a little too much cider. Not enough, however, to allow me to forget that we’ve still got 2 years, 5 months, 3 weeks and a couple of days before we can rid this state of a government that appears hell bent on doing as much damage to the public sector as possible.