Education International
Education International

Australia: Federal government attacks teachers’ rights

published 6 July 2011 updated 14 July 2011

The government of New South Wales in Australia is trying to take away the right of teachers to negotiate pay and conditions. The government has capped wage increases for public service employees at 2.5 per cent and has taken away their rights to bargain for improved pay and conditions.

Teachers and other public sector workers demonstrated outside the State Government buildings, demanding that the legislation be withdrawn.

Australian Education Union (AEU) President, Angelo Gavrielatos, addressed the demonstrators – telling them that the people who above all would be hit by this legislation would be the students in the schools and colleges.

As it is the NSW government is having difficulties recruiting enough teachers to replace the bulk of teachers who are reaching retirement age at present. Inevitably this would mean increased class sizes and shortages of specialist teachers.

NSW Teachers’ Federation President, Bob Lipscombe, asked demonstrators: “Which government believes… by making it less attractive, making it less appealing that somehow you’ll able to attract and retain the teachers you’re going to need?”

This new law takes away bargaining rights from teachers in a similar move to that being exercised by state governors across the US at the moment, for example, in Wisconsin. And just as in the US, these assaults on union rights are set to be met with strong resistance from teachers’ unions in Australia.