Teachers and teaching assistants in catholic schools in the island of Tasmania, Australia are on strike. The strike covers 37 schools, and members of the Independent Education Union (IEU) have voted overwhelmingly to step up their action.

The strikers are angry about workload, redundancy pay and the length of the school year, particularly for teaching assistants. Teachers said, "People don't realise how much our support staff put into our students. I couldn't function without my support staff. They work with difficult students, they help me get through my day and they deserve to be recognised."

Meetings and protests were held in three towns on the island. The IEU's Angela Briant told the Hobart meeting that the employers are "Out of touch with the coalface, out of touch with the real needs of students, out of touch with the real needs of teacher assistants."

The dispute has been exacerbated by employer plans to bypass the IEU by balloting directly with employees. Briant told the meeting that members would have had a vote in any event as a result of negotiations so,  "A lot of people will vote against an agreement because they're appalled by the way employers are bypassing their representatives." This attempt to diminish the teaching unions is of a piece with the tactics education 'reformers' all over the world are using because teaching unions are one of the most powerful forces for education and present a serious obstacle to plans to provide education on the cheap and to profit from it.