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Defiant public teachers to strike despite IRC threat #Ausunions

The Hon Adrian Piccoli MP  Member for Murrumbidgee & Deputy Leader of The Nationals and the NSWMinister for Education

Disappointed … NSW Minister for Education, Adrian Piccoli. Photo: Tamara Voninski

THE NSW public school teachers strike will go ahead tomorrow despite the NSW Education Minister, Adrian Piccoli, threatening to pursue the union in the Industrial Relations Commission.

The strike, which is expected to affect most of the state’s 2200 public schools, is part of the increasingly acrimonious dispute over reforms designed to increase the local authority and responsibility of principals.

The NSW Teachers Federation says the Local Schools, Local Decisions reforms will see permanent teachers replaced by temporary and casual staff. It argues the policy is a wolf in sheep’s clothing, designed to cut expenditure on education and shift blame from the government.

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Mr Piccoli expressed his great disappointment at the union’s decision to go ahead with the 24-hour strike in defiance of an order by the commission.

“I ask that all teachers across NSW abide by the IRC’s order to show up to schools to teach this Wednesday,” he said.

“The union has deliberately misled its members and parents and, if the strike proceeds on Wednesday, it will be in direct defiance of the IRC.

“If the union truly has students’ best interests at heart they will not strike on Wednesday and they will cease peddling misinformation and undermining public education.”

The reforms, which are already being implemented across NSW, are intended to push decision-making back to schools, with Mr Piccoli promising principals will be able to choose at least 50 per cent of new staff and control 70 per cent of their budget.

The federation’s principal objections revolve around staffing. There will be no mandated requirements for executive level appointments in schools, with principals able to spend their staffing budget as they see fit.

This freedom will extend to appointing casual teachers. In an autonomy trial, which ran in 47 NSW schools, 171 temporary appointments (out of a total of 289) were made by principals, a fact seized upon by the union to support its claims.

Other concerns include the potential breakdown of the existing statewide transfer system.

”We will put a recommendation to members to commit to fighting this campaign for as long as it takes, in every school community and in every electorate,” the federation’s president, Maurie Mulheron, said.

Both the NSW opposition education spokeswoman, Carmel Tebbutt and the P&C Federation called on both sides to negotiate a resolution to the dispute.

Ms Tebbutt said: ”The government really does need to sort this issue out with teachers … They could start by putting a representative of the federation on the main steering committee dealing with these reforms.”

The P&C spokeswoman Rachael Sowden called on the union to negotiate rather than strike.

”We are asking that the teachers and the NSW government enter into a meaningful and harmonious conversation around the current issues and concerns raised by the Local Schools, Local Decisions policy,” she said.

”Parents seek for both the Teachers Federation and the government to … appreciate the real need for children to be left out of the arguments.”

edu@smh.com.au

About Darin Sullivan (1969 Articles)
President of the Fire Brigade Employees’ Union and a professional firefighter with more than 25 years’ experience. I live and work on the NSW South Coast, Australia. I am a strong advocate for firefighters and emergency service workers with an interest in mental health issues and caring for those around me. I am a Director on the NSW Fire Brigades Death and Disability Super Fund and work with charities including ‘The Movember Foundation’. As a leader and activist I have long been active in the campaign for action on climate change. I am a Station Commander in the fire and rescue service in NSW and have 30 years experience fighting fires, both rural and urban. I am passionate about highlighting the impact climate change is having on fire preparedness and fire behaviour in Australia, and the risks associated with inaction on climate change. I am also a spokesperson for the Australian Climate Media Centre.
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