Teachers and principals in NSW public schools leave work tomorrow, the first time in a decade that such statewide industrial action has been taken.
The Teachers Federation Council has apologized for the inconvenience to families – but said it had no choice after trying to negotiate with the NSW government for the past 18 months.
Here is what you need to know.
Why are teachers going on strike?
The main reasons cited for the strike include a 2.5% salary cap in place for 10 years and chronic teacher shortages.
In accordance with the recommendations of thegalloping independent investigation, teachers and principals are asking for a salary increase of between 5 and 7.5 per cent per year.
Teachers’ Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos said staff shortages created unsustainable workloads.
âIn fact, since June, the shortage of teachers has doubled in our schools, [there are] 2,000 vacancies today from Bondi to Broken Hill and these shortages will increase over the next few years, âhe said.
The teachers’ union points to a report from the Ministry of Education warning the government that NSW public schools will run out of teachers over the next five years.
Internal briefings show the state needs 11,000 more teachers over the next 10 years due to a baby boom.
At the same time, there was a 30 percent drop in the number of young people entering initial teacher education and a 50 percent drop-out rate.
The federation’s claims about staff shortages have been challenged by the NSW Department of Education.
He said the vacancy rate in NSW for teachers was at a low level for an organization of its size.
“A vacant post in a school is covered by a casual or temporary teacher and does not mean a class is without a teacher,” the ministry said in a statement.
What to do with my children tomorrow?
NSW unions have said schools and principals will decide whether there is enough reduced staff to supervise the children.
Parents are kindly requested to make other arrangements for their children as classes will be canceled.
However, parents can also contact their school to find out if child care is available.
But the education ministry said the majority of schools in the state will remain open with supervision for students.
Parents were told where schools would be closed and these students would have access to home learning materials.
Education Secretary Georgina Harrisson said she understood the frustration of families and that the industrial action ended a difficult year for many parents and caregivers.
“I want to reassure parents that we are doing everything possible to ensure that learning continues without interruption, especially given the challenges that students, teachers and families have faced this year,” said Mrs. Harrisson.
What is the deadline for negotiations?
The NSW Supreme Court has been asked to consider whether the strike can be avoided.
The Education Ministry called on teachers to comply with the Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) order and not to strike.
âThe Department is still negotiating with the Federation on their demands and the place for that is in the IRC,â Ms. Harrisson said.
The action comes after 18 months of wage deal negotiations, and Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said it was disappointing to see teachers continuing to strike while talks were underway.
“Despite the decision of the Industrial Relations Commission [IRC] that the action does not take place … the Federation seems determined to this upheaval, “she said.
“I think for our kids it’s been a pretty tough year for them already, we have to have them in the classroom every day.”
Premier Dominic Perrottet has previously said the government’s position remains that NSW officials get a 2.5% pay rise.
“Ultimately, this is an issue that will be brought before the Industrial Relations Commission – that is where it will be resolved,” Perrottet said.
When was the last time the teachers went on strike?
The last time teachers staged a mass walkout in New South Wales, thousands protested outside state parliament in 2011 against a 2.5% cap on public sector pay increases .
They were joined by nurses, firefighters and police in the strike, which was also ruled illegal by the New South Wales Industrial Relations Commission.
The commission fined the state teachers’ union $ 6,000.