Thousands of educators stopped work across the state on Wednesday with a strong message for Premier Rockliff that he can no longer ignore Tasmania’s deepening education crisis.
More than 3000 Australian Education Union members joined 20 different state-wide stop work meetings calling for the government to fix staff shortages and under-resourcing impacting student learning.
Hobart’s Parliament Lawns attracted more than 1200 members, as teachers and support staff shared their frustration about the government’s disregard for student learning and educator working conditions.
Around 700 other members packed Launceston’s Elphin Sports Centre and 400 filled Devonport Oval, while 200 educators gathered to stand up for public education at the Burnie Arts Centre.
AEU Tasmania President David Genford said Wednesday’s collective action presented a line in the sand moment to the Premier.
“AEU teachers and support staff are asking which side of history Premier Rockliff will stand on,” Mr Genford said.
“Our educators are burnt out and students are missing out. They cannot go on any longer working under these untenable conditions. More teachers and support staff will walk away from their professions unless the Premier steps up.
“Premier Rockliff must decide if he will support Tasmania’s hardworking public education workforce with the reforms our students so desperately need. Or will he continue neglecting working and learning conditions as more educators walk away?”
Speaking at the Launceston stop work meeting Launceston College teacher and AEU Rep Cameron Hindrum told members they’d showed courage for standing up for education reform.
“Thank you for committing to seeking change, as we need to seek it and make our government listen,” he said.
“It would have been nice to have been shown respect by negotiations with the government over the past 14 months.
“Educators on average work up to 150 per cent of their paid hours according to new Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership figures.
“I don’t think it’s too much to ask for us to make a few suggestions, to put forward a log of claims, so we don’t have to repeatedly demand what should be provided like safer class sizes and so on.”
Mr Genford said the ball remained in the Premier’s court to end the learning disruption caused by underfunding and neglect in schools by supporting Lifting Learning solutions.
He said educators would otherwise be left with no choice but to escalate their actions.