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Wage offer an ‘insult’

Wednesday, 2nd November, 2011

By Erica Visser

 A teachers’ strike will go ahead this morning despite an award offer being made by the State Government on Monday afternoon. 

The stopwork meeting, from 8:30am to 10:30am, was called after the Teachers’ Federation accused the Government of stalling negotiations for the award which was due to begin on January 1. 

NSW Teachers’ Federation Western Region Organiser, Brett Bertalli, said that the offer was “too little, too late”.

“The proposed 2.5 per cent per annum increase is well below the current inflation rate of 3.5 per cent, with electricity, rents, groceries and other prices continuing to rise,” Mr Bertalli said. 

Teachers in Western Australian had received an increase of up to 4.5 per cent in their award, he said. 

He said the rate of inflation meant that the NSW Government’s proposal would set teachers back by up to $35 per week.

Another reason the offer was unacceptable was its reference to further negotiations for the award which would not be revealed until next year, he said.

“What’s concerning for Broken Hill teachers is that we don’t know what those changes will be.

“They’re expecting us to take this offer and trust that they’ll make the right decision.

“We cannot agree on something we haven’t seen the details for - we don’t know how the changes will affect our ability to attract teachers to Broken Hill.”

Mr Bertalli said the fact that the Government made an offer without revealing its full details was a “ruthless, sneaky act”.

“We’ve been asking them to come to the table. They should’ve come to us months ago. By doing it this way they throw a spanner in the works so they can divide and conquer.

“Why didn’t they actually say this last week? They wanted to make us look bad.”

Mr Bertalli said that more industrial action would come unless the Government revised its offer. 

 “Parents and teachers should be very concerned at this point.

“I’m forecasting that if they don’t improve this offer by more than 2.5 per cent further industrial action will follow.”

Meanwhile, local TAFE Teachers’ Association representative, Jim Nolan, reassured students that classes would go ahead today.

“TAFE teachers can’t actually stop so classes will run as normal,” Mr Nolan said.

“We’ve had a salary offer yesterday and are seeking legal advice but we will be participating in future industrial action as the offer at this point isn’t acceptable.”

Local NSW Teachers Federation Representative Maureen Clark said that the Government’s approach to negotiating the award was detrimental to the city.

“I think it’s of great concern to people out here in our Broken Hill schools because of the way the Government appears to be linking our pay rise with the staffing of schools,” she said.

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