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10,000 Victorian teachers struck and rallied in Melbourne lat Thursday (14th February) and their colleagues struck statewide in the biggest industrial action seen in the Australian state.  The action was to end the pay freeze which intransigent bargaining has caused for Victorian AEU members, making their pay the lowest in the country.  Teachers marched from the phone company arena venue to Parliament in the AEU signature colour, creating a sea of red protesting the Labor governments refusal to agree to professional pay and conditions.

The teachers are demanding a 30% pay increase over 3 years and smaller class sizes. Teachers in Victoria are the lowest paid in Australia and they haven’t had a raise since October 2006. In the autumn they voted overwhelmingly for strike action. In the face of this the state government has offered 3.25% so the strike which will include rolling four hour action became inevitable

 

The poor pay for teachers is having a serious effect on recruitment – appplications for teaching courses have dropped by 7% and it is particularly difficult to find teachers who are prepared to teach in rural areas. The problems for teachers are exacerbated in Victoria by the fact that one in five of them is on a temporary contract.