Schools Vote yes to taking action on the VGSA!

  • By Rachel Power
  • This article was published more than 2 years ago.
  • 15 Sep 2021

The union is urging all schools members to vote yes to your right to take industrial action for a better workplace agreement.

At the time of publication, schools members were set to vote on taking protected industrial action in a bid to pressure the state government into making an offer that meets their demand for fairer pay and conditions, particularly a reduction to crippling workloads.

On 30 July, the AEU’s Joint Primary and Secondary Council resolved to escalate the campaign to deliver a fair and reasonable Victorian Government Schools Agreement (VGSA) for all members in schools. 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. In the absence of a formal offer from government, the Council authorised the AEU Branch Executive to commence an application to the Fair Work Commission.

The ballot opens on 13 September and closes on 1 October, the last Friday of the school break. The union is urging all schools members to vote ‘yes’ to taking industrial action. If passed by a majority of those who vote, we will then decide what form protected action will take, from bans and limitations to possible stopworks.

“Excessive workloads are leaving teachers exhausted, stressed and at risk of burning out. That’s not sustainable.”

AEU Victoria president Meredith Peace

Negotiations have been underway for more than seven months. The VGSA (2017) nominally expired on 30 April 2021, and school staff have not had a pay rise since October 2020. The union is pushing for a 7% annual pay rise over the three-year life of the agreement.

AEU Victoria president Meredith Peace has told the media it is “unacceptable” that public schools continue to run on the goodwill of staff. “Excessive workloads are leaving teachers exhausted, stressed and at risk of burning out. That’s not sustainable.” The union has calculated that the state government saves $92 million each semester for unpaid hours related to report writing, and workloads are driving thousands of education staff out of the profession.

The union is calling on government to cut face-to-face teaching hours to 18 per week, down from the current 22.5 hours in primary and 20 hours in secondary. It is also seeking an Agreement that addresses workload and stress-related injuries among principals; and that properly recognises the scope and value of ES work.

For industrial action to be protected, at least 50% of eligible union members must vote in the ballot and, of those, a majority must vote ‘yes’. So, vote ‘YES’ now for your right to take action!

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