Central Victorian teachers strike

Bendigo teachers Jenny Grant and Sandra Willis travelled to Melbourne. Picture: Jim Aldersey
Bendigo teachers Jenny Grant and Sandra Willis travelled to Melbourne. Picture: Jim Aldersey
Teachers from Bendigo prepare to leave for the rally in Melbourne. Picture: Jim Aldersey

Teachers from Bendigo prepare to leave for the rally in Melbourne. Picture: Jim Aldersey

OVER 40 teachers, principals and support staff from Echuca and Bendigo have travelled to Melbourne this morning to take part in a state-wide strike.

Education staff across Victoria will meet at Hisense Arena before marching towards Parliament House, while another rally is being held in Mildura at the Settlers Hotel.

Bendigo Senior Secondary College integration aid Tim Sullivan said he hoped the action would resonate with the state government.

"I am participating in the strike because the government isn't supporting the teachers and education support workers and the education system as a whole," he said.

"They are putting in divisive policies that are going to result in worse quality schools, worse quality teaching, worse quality support and they are doing this while telling us to do better."

Mr Sullivan said he wanted fair pay and fair treatment and to not "feel attacked" by the Baillieu government.

He said it was important education in Victoria was properly funded.

"We [education staff] are spending more time focusing on industrial action and how we can squeeze more time into the day and more kids into the classroom," he said.

"If we are funded properly we can focus on what we do and get on with the job."

Over 30 schools in the Bendigo Advertiser readership area will be affected by the action, with nine schools scheduled to close down for the day.

Colbinabbin, Big Hill, Tylden, Donald, Rochester, Lockwood and Marong primary schools will be closed as well as Cohuna Secondary College and Cohuna Consolidated school.

About 80 teachers from Bendigo Senior Secondary College will strike, while about 24 out of 120 teachers from Bendigo South East College will participate in the stop-work action.

Other schools affected by the strike include White Hills, Specimen Hill, Kennington, Quarry Hill, Maiden Gully and Spring Gully primary schools.

Australia Education Union industrial organiser for Loddon Mallee Michael Claven said union members were "angry" and "annoyed" with the state government's "unwillingness to resolve the dispute".

"Our members are angry and want to vent their ire at the government, they believe this has dragged on too long and is a direct consequence of the government's incapacity to resolve the dispute," he said.

"I think most people in the community would say that our salary claim and improved teaching and learning conditions in schools are justifiable, reasonable and affordable." 

Mr Claven said members would continue to take part in stop-work actions until the dispute between the state government and the Australia Education Union (AEU) was resolved.

"We want to make sure we bring enormous pressure both industrially and politically onto the government to force them to the negotiating table with a credible and reasonable offer," he said.

This is the third state-wide stop-work action organised by the AEU against the Ballieu government in a bid to receive better pay and working conditions.

Last week, the Federal Court rejected the state government's legal bid to prevent teachers from taking part in the stop work action.

AEU Victorian branch president Meredith Peace said the state-wide strike would send a clear message to the government that it must invest more in public education.

"Victorian teachers are now the second lowest paid in the country," Ms Peace said in a statement.

The government has called on the union to call off the strike, after failing in a court bid last week to halt the action.

Education Minister Martin Dixon said the strike action would be disappointing and disruptive to families and businesses.

"Victoria's teacher performance management system is broken, we want to fix it. That's what tomorrow's strike's about," he said yesterday.

"We've got a system that's broken whereby the best teacher in the school is paid the same as the worst teacher. 

"That's what we need to change and they're the sort of issues we're talking with the union about. 

"We call on the union to call off the strike and work with us to fix that system."

Mr Dixon said the government was working to minimise the disruption.

Government figures show so far about 65 per cent of school staff are taking part in strike action and 300 schools will not have students, he said. Mr Dixon said principals have told the government there will be adequate supervision put in place at schools. But Ms Peace said the action was not taken lightly.

"It is time for the state government to treat Victoria's public school staff with the respect they deserve and resolve this dispute without further delay," she said. 

The AEU revised its offer to the government in November, offering 4.2 per cent per year over three years, but it failed to resolve the dispute.

Schools affected in the Bendigo region

Bendigo Senior Secondary College

Bendigo South East College

Big Hill Primary School (closing down)

California Gully Primary School

Castlemaine Primary School

Castlemaine Secondary College

Charlton College

Cohuna Secondary (closing down)

Cohuna Consolidated School (closing down)

Colbinabbin Primary School (closing down)

Donald Primary School (closing down)

Donald High School

Eaglehawk Secondary College

Eaglehawk North Primary School

Eppalock Primary School

Echuca South Primary School

Echuca East Primary School

Gisborne Secondary College

Huntly Primary School

Kalianna School

Kangaroo Flat Primary School

Kennington Primary School

Kerang Primary School 

Lockwood Primary School (closing down)

Maiden Gully Primary School

Marong Primary School (closing down)

Maryborough Education Centre

Mt Macedon Primary School

New Gisborne Primary School

Quarry Hill Primary School

Rochester Primary School (closing down)

Rochester Secondary College

Specimen Hill Primary School

Spring Gully Primary School

St Arnaud Secondary College

St Arnaud Primary School

Strathfieldsaye Primary School

Tylden Primary School (closing down)

Wedderburn College

Weeroona College Bendigo

White Hills Primary School

Woodend Primary School

Wycheproof P-12 College

*Sourced from the AEU


Discuss "Central Victorian teachers strike"

Please note: All comments made or shown here are bound by the Online Discussion Terms & Conditions.