Teacher crisis hit by wages triple blow

  • Report confirms Tasmanian public sector wages falling behind mainland 
  • Tasmanian public teachers lose out to private sector, where some are set to receive 8.6% wage increases 
  • Cost of living outstripping public school teacher wage rises 3:1 

Living costs have risen at three-times the rate of public-school teacher wages, as more Tasmanian educators walk away from the profession seeking better working conditions elsewhere. 

While private-public wage inequity is set to widen with Enterprise Agreements showing teachers at some Tasmanian private schools are poised for CPI-linked 8.6 per cent pay increases from next year. 

Australian Education Union Tasmania State Manager Brian Wightman said Tasmanian teachers – the lowest paid nationally – were now at breaking point with record numbers leaving the education system amid untenable workloads. 

He said some schools would struggle to fill positions in 2023 and were already struggling before 271 educator resignations were recorded this year, adding to hundreds of other retirements. 

“We are facing a retention crisis,” Mr Wightman said. 

“These are record numbers departing due to excessive workloads and uncompetitive pay. 

“The Rockliff Government needs to wake up to, and immediately address, the crisis unfolding in our public schools or it’s our students who will continue missing out.” 

The latest wage price index shows Tasmanian public sector wages increased 3 per cent over the past year, against 8.6 per cent CPI growth. Public school teachers accepted a 2.35 per cent increase in March 2022, a time when COVID infections were reaching their peak in Tasmania.  

New research from public policy analyst Martyn Goddard shows private sector Tasmanian wages are outstripping public wages faster than any other state. This means Tasmanian public school teacher wages are significantly outpaced by the private sector, living costs and mainland teacher wages. 

Tasmanian public sector wages have grown 39.2 per cent since 2009 against 42 per cent for the private sector, meaning public employee wages would have to grow by 6.9 per cent to make up for the progressive relative losses over the 12-year period. 

Mr Wightman said teachers leaving the public sector seeking pay incentives interstate or within the state’s private sector was a reflection on Rockliff Government failures. 

The Victorian Government has responded to national competition for teachers with sign-on bonuses of up to $50,000 for relocating, while Queensland teachers will receive up to 8 per cent in wage rises and payments each year if inflation remains high. 

Meanwhile, private-public wage inequity is set to grow with Enterprise Agreements showing teachers at some Greater Hobart private schools – including Calvin Christian, Emmanuel Christian and Channel Christian – will receive 8.6 per cent pay increases from next year. Hutchins and Friends Schools also have wage increases linked to CPI that will result in increases of five to nine percent in 2023. 

The AEU Tasmania Branch is locked in bargaining negotiations with the Rockliff Government, which has offered educators 3.5 per cent wage rises in the first year and 3 per cent in the second and third years.  

Mr Wightman warned Tasmania’s growing public school teacher attrition rate would only climb higher unless fairer working conditions were tabled by the Rockliff Government. 

“These significant wage increases at private schools could worsen the crisis in public schools if the Rockliff Government doesn’t address excessive workloads and make wages competitive with the mainland and local private schools,” he said. 

“The more our teachers burn out and leave, the more our students miss out.”