Some public school teachers in South Australia are on strike today (9 November) after the Australian Education Union (AEU) rejected a revised pay and conditions offer from the State Government, which it described as meagre.
The strike comes after AEU members voted last week with an 83 per cent majority to strike for the second time in two months as negotiations for better pay and conditions faltered.
Today’s strike follows a stop work rally at Adelaide’s Parliament House on 1 September, which resulted in about one-third of SA’s public schools being closed or operating reduced programs.
The government had initially offered teachers a 9 per cent pay rise, or 3 per cent per year over three years. On 6 November, SA Education Minister Blair Boyer said the offer was revised slightly to 4 per cent in the first year, 3 per cent in the second year, and 2.5 per cent in the third.
“We have just submitted to the union an offer worth about $1.4 billion, which of course is the largest offer we have ever made to teachers in South Australia,” Mr Boyer said.
“Having the 4 per cent in the first year means that larger percentage increase is compounded in the future years, giving a benefit in years two and three as well.
“We’ve met the deadline, it’s clearly an improved offer, by a lot of money,” he said. “So, on that basis, if the union’s true to their word, there won’t be a strike on Thursday. The ball’s in their court.”
But the government’s latest offer is still a long way short of union demands for a 19.6 per cent wage rise comprising an 8.6 per cent pay rise in the first year and 5.5 per cent increases in the following two years, with the union describing it as “essentially the same, if not worse” than the original offer.
“Since taking industrial action in September, we have been negotiating with the government and expected today’s offer to reflect those discussions,” AEA SA branch president Andrew Gohl said in a statement. “It is disappointing to see such contempt.
“This offer actually sends some people backwards compared to the second offer,” he said. “The decision was unanimous to reject the offer, and the reason being that workload and work overload have not been addressed.”
Today’s strike started at 11:30 am, when union members gathered outside the Department of Education offices and marched to Parliament House. About 171 of the state’s more than 900 public schools are expected to be affected.
Mr Boyer said there would be no disruptions to Year 12 exams.