Victorian school staff prepare for industrial action

Victorian teachers, principals and education support staff have resolved to take steps towards protected industrial action towards reaching an acceptable enterprise agreement.

Whilst negotiations have been constructive over the past 11 months, the Andrews government has failed to adequately address our claims regarding the excessive and unsustainable workloads of school staff.

"Workloads are at breaking point. Teachers work two full days of overtime every week – and when teachers are run into the ground, it is ultimately students who suffer," said Meredith Peace, AEU Victorian branch president.

"Around 90% of teachers say that their workload negatively affects the quality of theirteaching. Over two-thirds of teachers don't have enough time to plan their classes to the level that they would want.

"The whole system is at breaking point, and that means students miss out."

Peace says principals are working in excess of 60 hours per week and spend the majority of their working week on administrative and compliance tasks rather than focusing on educational leadership at their schools.

"We need to address this workload if we are to ensure our principals do not burnout," she says.

The union is arguing that education support staff members – "the backbone of our schools" – also need better salary recognition for the essential contribution that they make to student learning and wellbeing.

The current agreement expired on 31 October last year and school staff have not had a pay rise since August 2015.

"If the Andrews government wants to deliver on their promise to make Victoria the 'Education State', it must provide the funding required to give teachers and principals time to focus on their core work of teaching and learning, and delivering high-quality education to their students."

Over the coming weeks, the AEU negotiators will continue to meet with departmental officials to try to reach a settlement for a new agreement.

In the meantime, the union will take the steps required to apply to the Fair Work Commission for a ballot of members to authorise the taking of industrial action.

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