Teachers rally at Drum's office

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MORE than 150 public teachers, principals and support staff rallied outside the office of Member for Northern Victoria Damian Drum yesterday. 

Union members waved placards and chanted slogans, calling on Premier Ted Baillieu to honour his election promise to make Victoria’s teachers “the highest paid in Australia”. 

At the close of 2012, negotiations will have been ongoing for two years.

But Australian Education Union (AEU) organiser for the Loddon Campaspe-Mallee region Michael Claven said morale remained strong. 

“Every month negotiations drag on, more and more members are joining the union and we are growing stronger,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Education Minister Peter Hall said the government was pleased the AEU had come back to the negotiating table after breaking off discussions to instead pursue industrial action.

She said the AEU’s representation had now sought to work with the government and those discussions were continuing.

“(But) it is unhelpful that these work bans and protest actions are taking place while we are recommencing negotiations – they do little to demonstrate genuine commitment to these negotiations,” she said.

AEU Victorian branch president Mary Bluett said while progress had been made to allow teachers, principals and support staff to campaign together, the union still had a fight on its hands to secure improved pay and conditions. 

“Every day in our schools we are teaching our kids values, and one of those values is: don’t tell lies,” she said.  

“We are taking the campaign to communities around Victoria and making it clear to Coalition politicians that they should stand up for their local school staff and be accountable for the actions of the Baillieu government.” 

The rally is part of a series of rolling stoppages set for regional Victorian public schools throughout term four, as staff ramp up their campaign. 

Teachers will also enforce a ban on reporting student achievement to the Education Department, limit comments in student reports and enforce bans on scheduled weekly meetings as well as those specific to the work of education support members.

The spokeswoman for Education Minister Peter Hall said public school staff were placing Victorian schoolchildren at a disadvantage as a result.

The government’s offer of a 2.5 per cent pay rise remained. 

“It is out of touch with the workplaces of most Victorian parents and the wider community to demand a 30 per cent pay rise without meeting performance review indicators or productivity improvements,” the spokeswoman said.

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