Bendigo teachers join strike action

BENDIGO teachers, principals and support staff were among about 15,000 education workers to walk off the job yesterday.

A number of public schools closed across the Bendigo region as education staff took part in the biggest industrial action in Victoria’s history.

Fifteen schools closed and at least 25 opened with skeleton staff. It was estimated up to 400 schools closed across the state.

Victorian government teachers formed a sea of red at Rod Laver Arena while their Catholic school counterparts, dressed in black, gathered at the Royal Exhibition Building despite protected strike action not being approved.

Yesterday’s strike marked the first time support staff had joined teachers as they campaign for better pay and job security.

Australian Education Union deputy president Meredith Peace said further half-day stoppages would be held in schools across the state next term.

Teachers are fighting for a 30 per cent pay rise over three years, a maximum class size of 20 children, a 50 per cent reduction in the number of short-term contracts and a reduced work load.

The state government is offering performance-based pay for 70 per cent of teachers, an annual pay rise of 2.5 per cent, a 20 per cent reduction in teachers who move up the pay scale every year and to increase the average secondary school teacher’s workload by one hour every week.

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