Premier Barry O’Farrell has been criticised for a perceived attempt to influence the NSW Industrial Relations Commission while it decides whether to fine a teachers’ union for taking strike action.
MR O’Farrell has expressed disappointment that teachers will strike on Wednesday despite an order by the IRC not to do so.
He also criticised the IRC for not having imposed fines on the NSW Teachers Federation for two previous illegal strikes.
“The Industrial Relations Commission seems to take an inordinate amount of time to impose a fine on a teachers’ union that engaged in illegal action in the past,” Mr O’Farrell told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday.
However, IRC president Justice Roger Boland said the premier should not interfere in ongoing court matters.
“It is presumed the two matters referred to by the premier are matters heard by judges of the Industrial Court on 4 June and 25 June, 2012, respectively,” Justice Boland said in a statement.
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- NSW teachers to push ahead with strike Courier Mail, 5 hours ago
- Teachers strike will go ahead The Daily Telegraph, 5 hours ago
- NSW teachers to walk off the job The Daily Telegraph, 18 May 2012
- NSW teachers strike to go ahead The Daily Telegraph, 17 May 2012
- Specialists may soon be sidelined The Australian, 21 Oct 2011
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“Their honours are reserved on the question of penalty.
“It is unfortunate in those circumstances that the premier made the statement he did.
“The court will not be influenced by such statements.”
Justice Boland said media reports had given the impression that the industrial court had never fined the Teachers Federation for going against orders.
“That is not so,” Justice Boland said.
“There have been seven applications for contravention of dispute orders in the past five years, five of them in respect of the Teachers Federation.
“In two cases the federation was fined (in 2009 and 2010), in one case the Department of Education and Training withdrew its application (2010) and the remaining two are those awaiting decision by the Court.”
Teachers are striking because the state government is refusing to change its Local Schools Local Decisions policy, which gives principals the power to control 70 per cent of a school’s budget and hire up to half of its staff.
Mr O’Farrell on Tuesday called on the teachers to defy their union and turn up to work.
Teachers will hold a major stop work meeting at Sydney’s Town Hall on Wednesday morning.