On Wednesday the school was closed for instruction due to strike action. A big thank you goes out to all the parents and students who came along and joined us in solidarity on the day. We are heartened by your ongoing support.
Unfortunately, both the government and the unions are still far apart in regards to coming to an agreement. For many, the strike is still about pay, and the crippling increase in students presenting with significant learning and behavioural needs, while there being a freeze in funding to support these children. At Newton Central School the number of students identified with significant learning and behavioural needs has increased from 5% to 15% in the last 3 years.
There are two major sticking points for the teachers regarding pay. First, the last increase in salary was 1% in 2017. Our negotiations have been ongoing for over a year. There is no allowance for backpay for this period whilst our school suffers its worse teaching shortage in living memory.
Secondly and I believe more importantly is the loss of parity with secondary teachers. If our primary teachers accept the current offer, this will result in them being paid up to $5000 less in three years’ time than an equivalent secondary school teacher with the equivalent experience and qualifications. Currently these teachers are paid $2000 less. This loss of parity is unacceptable and unless the government makes an ethical move towards addressing this, I do believe we will see further strikes.
Hopefully we will see some bold, sensible, ethical leadership in the coming days and a willingness to address these issues and in particular the gender issue of pay parity.
A number of parents have also asked me “Why didn’t the teachers strike during the National Government?” This article by Catherine Delahunty is the most eloquent reason I can find to explain this.