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More strike action

Friday, 12th February, 2010

* President of the TAFE Teachers' Federation local branch Fred Smith. * President of the TAFE Teachers' Federation local branch Fred Smith.

Local TAFE teachers have vowed to continue industrial action after yesterday's 24-hour strike. They walked off the job to protest at attacks on their working conditions, according to local President of the TAFE Teachers Association, Fred Smith. TAFE teachers had been given a 20 per cent increase in workload in return for an average 1.5 per cent increase in salary, he said.

Despite industrial action last year and 12 months of negotiation, Mr Smith said the problems with the Department of Education and Training's new award had still not been settled. "We are determined that campaign action will continue right up to the State elections if necessary," he said.

"The Director-General of Education has suggested that some parts of this award can be implemented flexibly, but any flexibilities that will be implemented will be based on the whim of a manager," Mr Smith said. "This is not good educational or industrial practice. However, it does show that under the NSW Industrial Relations system, changes to the award are possible."

Local teachers also attended the day's main rally at the Sydney Town Hall. There, TAFE Teachers Association president Rob Long told the crowd that the Labor government had attacked the delivery of quality TAFE education and sought to undermine teachers' working conditions through Work Choices-style changes.

"We're not going to put up with current pay and conditions," Mr Long told the meeting. "We need decent working conditions for TAFE teachers in this State." Mark Lennon, secretary of Unions NSW, said teachers had tried to negotiate with the government.

"We are reasonable people, we are prepared to sit down and discuss this with the government. "As a failure of the government to sit down and talk we find ourselves in situations like this today." NSW Education Minister Verity Firth said she was disappointed the teachers took industrial action.

"The NSW Industrial Relations Commission (IRC) stated very firmly that strike action today would be illegal and unwarranted," Ms Firth told journalists. "We will be notifying the commission and the first hearing has been set down for Friday (today). "There may be fines, but that of course is a decision for the commission."

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