Helen Richardson, Tasmanian Branch President
18 months ago, we launched our Quality Education for All campaign, a campaign to have a public education system where educators are respected and valued and where our schools, colleges and TAFE are resourced and supported to give every student the opportunity to get a quality education.
There hasn’t been such a sustained and organised campaign for quality education in Tasmania for a very long time.
When we started our campaign, we knew we’d have to play the long game and we knew it wouldn’t be easy!
Last year, one of our first organised member actions was Walk off for Workload. Some members took the opportunity to take our message out to the community with wobble-boarding and others organised ‘pub catch ups’ in their clusters.
In August we held our first joint public sector union action against the government’s 2% wage cap. Public sector unions asked their members to stand together and wear red in their workplaces.
At the end of October, under the banner of Tasmanians Need a Pay-rise, thousands of our members joined other public sector unions, standing side by side with other public sector workers for our first Stop Work Action at events around the state. Over 60 schools closed.
Workplace bans were put in place in schools and TAFE, which aimed to put pressure on the Government to come to the table and negotiate in good faith.
At the end of November, members, turned out in their masses to Stop Work meetings across the state.
Around 4,500 Tasmanian teachers, principals and support staff from schools and TAFE filled stadiums and meeting venues in 20 locations across the state as part of unprecedented industrial action.
Over 150 workplaces were closed for 2 hours in the morning. This action by members showed the depth and the breadth of concern about unmanageable workloads and their frustration at the Hodgman Government’s lack of action on a fair and competitive salary for educators.
We called on the Premier to step up and show leadership and address educator concerns as a matter of urgency.
Because the State Government failed to progress negotiations over the summer break, members held Stop Work meetings at their workplaces on the first day of term this year. Members voted to escalate industrial action and introduce new work bans if the Liberal Government fails to progress negotiations.
In late February the Premier intervened and the Government finally succumbed to pressure and agreed to meet with all public sector unions to progress negotiations. Finally, after 8 months of negotiations the Government presented their new salary position of a miserable 2%, 2.25% and 2.5% over the life of the Agreement.
Three weeks ago, we received a revised bargaining offer for the DoE Teachers Agreement.
This offer came with a ‘grab bag’ of new demands that strip some existing conditions, including the loss of public holidays, performance pay for teachers and a review into the Public Sector.
100% of 150 workplace meetings rejected the Government’s offer and 83% of members in a survey to over 4,000 said the offer failed to meet their expectations.
Branch Council passed the following motions: “That Branch Council rejects the government’s 1 March 2019 DoE Teachers offer”
“In the event that there is unsatisfactory progress in negotiations, Branch Council directs members to participate in the following joint public sector union Stop Work actions; 2 April Burnie, 3 April Launceston and Hobart 3 April.”