Teachers, principals and education support staff working in Victorian government schools have voted in favour of taking industrial action to achieve a new agreement that meets their demands for better pay and conditions.
The ballot for protected industrial action has been overwhelmingly endorsed, with 97% of those who participated voting ‘YES’ to take action.
The decision follows months of negotiations in which the Andrews government has failed to adequately address the union’s log of claims, not least regarding the excessive workloads of teachers and principals, and the critical need for better pay and conditions for ES members. The VGSA (2017) nominally expired on 30 April 2021, and school staff have not had a pay rise since October 2020.
AEU Victoria branch president Meredith Peace said the results of the ballot send a clear message to the Andrews Labor government.
“Premier Daniel Andrews and Education Minister James Merlino have not done enough to address the spiralling and unsustainable workloads of teachers, principals and education support staff in public schools.”
“Exhausted teachers with excessive workloads teaching large classes can’t deliver the quality and support our children need and deserve.”
In commenting to the media, Meredith Peace has been laying out the facts behind the union’s decision to escalate its Schools Agreement campaign.
“Victoria spends $1,384 less per public student compared to the national average. They receive less funding than their peers in every other state and territory,” she says.
“In order to make up for this funding shortfall, teachers, principals and education support staff work longer and harder.”
Peace has been pointing to recent survey results showing public school teachers work an average of 15 unpaid hours every week. Public school principals work on average almost 60 hours each week and many education support staff report that they cannot complete their duties within their paid hours.
“These workloads lead to staff stress and burnout,” she says. “Worryingly, almost one third of public school teachers are thinking of seeking work outside our schools.
“This should concern every parent in Victoria. Exhausted teachers with excessive workloads teaching large classes can’t deliver the quality and support our children need and deserve.
“Premier Andrews and Minister Merlino must provide more funding for more teachers and more support staff, so that schools and staff have the time and resources they require to support every student’s needs.”