The Socialist Alliance NSW released the statement below on June 27.
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The NSW Teachers Federation is taking action today against the sackings announced on 30 May.
The Department of Education and Communities (DEC) declared they will sack 200 people — including 175 teachers. In addition, 75 public servants will lose their jobs under a Local Schools, Local Decisions restructure. This is on top of the 15,000 jobs Premier Barry O'Farrell is shedding in the public sector — job losses that will mean more work for already overworked administration staff and teachers in public schools.
Devolution is a recipe for more cuts
Using the smokescreen of “increasing school autonomy”, the government aims to cut funding and resources for public schools through its devolution policy. Devolution will reduce job security and increase class sizes by removing the responsibility for resourcing and staffing from the education department and handing it to school principals. They will then be blamed when future governments cut education budgets.
Casualisation at the core
What is behind this cost-cutting drive? O’Farrell wants to create a cheaper teaching workforce through casualisation. This has been the result internationally and interstate where similar devolution schemes have been applied. And it is not just teachers in O’Farrell’s line of sight.
These sackings come in the wake of O’Farrell’s privatisation of state energy assets, privatisation of the ferries, threats to sell off the buses and back flips on hunting in national parks.
ALP is part of the problem
The cutbacks and privatisations were started by the Labor Party and this party is no alternative. Federally, the ALP supports devolution.
The recent victory of the NSW Firefighters Union shows us that industrial action can stop the attacks on working people. The firefighters held their first all-out strike since 1956 on June 21 to protest against workers compensation changes.
O’Farrell has legislated to remove workers compensation for workers who are injured while traveling to and from work and has severely restricted workers’ claims for workplace injuries.
Firefighters sealed off Macquarie Street, Sydney and hosed down Parliament House. Their actions led O’Farrell to exempt firefighters from the new laws. This proves the Liberal government can be beaten. When faced with threats of ongoing industrial action, O’Farrell folded.
Action now, not in two years’ time
Now the NSW Teachers Federation is finally taking action. The firefighters set the pace; now it’s the teachers turn to stop work. A large Unions NSW-organised rally against the workers compensation changes on June 13 was large, but there was no follow through. One-off actions will not be sufficient to stop O’Farrell. What is needed is a coordinated public sector-wide campaign.
The whole public sector is suffering—health, education, transport and emergency services are reeling from the 15,000 job cuts. Moreover, every single worker in NSW is affected by the draconian workers compensation changes.
MUA motion calls for more action
A motion placed by the Maritime Union of Australia at the Unions NSW meeting on June 21 called for protracted industrial action against O’Farrell’s workers compensation changes.
The Teachers Federation can play a leading role in arguing for this motion to become a reality and for the campaign to be not just against compensation changes, but also against cuts to the public sector.
The Socialist Alliance supports the Teachers Federation’s campaign and is committed to organising actions that will defeat O'Farrell's job cuts. SA members are active in the Teachers Federation and elsewhere in the whole education sector. It is committed to fighting these attacks on public education.