By Adam Hanieh
ADELAIDE — South Australian Institute of Teachers delegates held a special meeting on April 10 to discuss further action in their dispute with the state Liberal government. SAIT industrial officer Angus Story described the dispute as "the biggest campaign ever waged by education workers in South Australia".
The chief executive of the Department of Education had announced that delegates would lose a day's pay if they attended the two-hour meeting. SAIT has subsequently called on school principals not to report the names of teachers who attended.
SAIT members are attempting to gain a federal award to raise their wages and conditions to a national benchmark. South Australian teachers are currently the worst paid in the country, and the state government has been implementing savage cutbacks to the education system — four more school closures were announced last week.
The government has been stalling negotiations with SAIT and other unions, hoping that upcoming school holidays will demobilise the teachers' campaign. But the April 10 meeting unanimously endorsed the resumption of rolling stoppages from the first Wednesday of second term. In addition, bans will be placed on any work not directly related to the teaching of students.
The SAIT and the Australian Education Union are presently involved in two sets of industrial hearings. The state government has appealed against a decision by the federal Industrial Relations Commission that SA teachers deserve a federal award. The government is also appealing to prevent the inclusion of school services officers, Aboriginal education workers and early childhood workers in any federal award.
On April 12, the AEU lost its appeal to prevent the state IRC from putting orders against any industrial action.