South Coast Public School Students have been left without classes today as Public and Systemic Catholic School teachers strike.
Teachers and school staff met in Littleton gardens in Bega and at the Batemans Bay Soliders Club from 10am this morning (Thursday June 30), to demand fairer pay and conditions.
President of the NSW Teachers Federation Angelo Gavrielatos said one major reason for the industrial action is the increasing staff shortages in areas like the South Coast.
“The (state) Government has falied to act therefore we were left with no option, together with the Independent Education Union and Catholic School teachers to take industrial action,” Mr Gavrielatos said.
“We have a teacher shortage crisis in NSW that the government has known about for far too long but worst still has failed to act on it,” he said.
“We have around 2,000 teacher vacancies across NSW, that’s a 67% increase in the number of vacancies the same time last year.”
The union has raised serious concerns about teacher shortages with recent figures showing more than 30 vacant positions in the state electorate of Bega.
Pam Smith from the IEU was one of today’s speakers in Batemans Bay and said teachers and support staff deserved fairer pay and more time to do their job.
“Pay Teachers what they’re worth, give support staff a fair deal, let teachers teach, cut the paperwork and the admin and allow time for planning and preparation.”
NSW Teachers Federation Country Organiser, Wayne Donnovan, said the teacher shortage gripping the state, was not fair on teachers or students.
“I work with 106 schools in my patch (in South East NSW) and all of my schools from Eden, Bombala, Bega, Moruya and Batemans Bay, they are all experiencing teacher shortages in their schools,” Mr Donnovan said.
“Every time I visit a school, all I hear about is the fact that we’ve had so many classes split, kids with minimal supervision, year 12 students in our schools along the South Coast who are not getting the teachers that they need for their final year of study, that is not fair,” he said.
“Kids in our schools are not getting the education they deserve.”
The NSW Teachers Federation and Independent Education Union agreed unanimously earlier this week to hold their first joint action in more than 20 years on Thursday (June 30).
It comes after a number of public school teacher strikes in Term 2 this year and in December 2021, and the first full day strike by Catholic school teachers in 18 years back in May 2022.
The Diocesan Catholic school Education group of Canberra & Goulburn said they support employees’ right to take protected industrial action in pursuit of a new enterprise agreement but they are concerned about further potential disruption to students and the school community.
A NSW Department of Education spokesperson said parents and carers want their children in school and no one needs another day out of the classroom, especially after the challenges of COVID, and the previous strike in Term 2.
They said the NSW Government recently announced a boost to the salary of public sector workers under its wages policy.
Premier Dominic Perrottet announced the public sector wage cap would be lifted from 2.5 per to 3 per cent.
But the NSW Teachers Federation wants a pay rise of between 5 and 7 per cent.
Image Credit: Grace Heffernan, Bertie Fagan / East Coast Radio