NSW and Catholic school teachers call historic joint strike

June 23, 2022
NSW Teachers Federation strike in December 2021. Photo: Pip Hinman

New South Wales public and Catholic school teachers will stage a historic joint 24–hour strike on June 30 over pay, staff shortages and a mounting workload.

It has been more than 20 years since the NSW Teachers Federation (NSWTF) and the Independent Education Union of Australia (IEUA) have taken joint action. The unions say it is a direct result of the state government and Catholic education employers’ “manifest failure” to deal with the education crisis.

The decision to take strike action follows the NSW budget to limit wage rises for all NSW public sector workers to 3% in 2022–23. This is a wage cut for public school teachers and it will flow through to the independent school sector.

NSWTF president Angelo Gavrielatos told the June 21 Sydney Morning Herald: “Hundreds of classes every day and thousands upon thousands of students are being denied their education and their future.”

It will be the third time in about six months that public school teachers have voted to strike and the second time this year that NSW and ACT Catholic diocesan schools have voted to take industrial action. Together, the unions represent more than three quarters of the state’s teachers.

Unionists from across Sydney and NSW and the ACT will rally outside NSW Parliament on June 30 as well as holding regional gatherings.

“Both unions have come to the conclusion that the government has its head in the sand in regards to the teacher crisis,” Gavrielatos said. He said unions have been campaigning for the Premier to “reconsider his decision to cap the pay of teachers at three per cent when inflation is more than five per cent and rising” but to no avail.

“Acting on uncompetitive salaries and unsustainable workloads is the only way to stop more teachers leaving and attract the people into the profession we need to fix the shortages."

IEUA NSW/ACT secretary Mark Northam said Catholic school employers follow the government’s lead on salaries, even though they are not legally bound to. He said parents had supported the last strike teachers had.

Gavrielatos said the budget did nothing to address “crippling workloads”, noting that the government knows “the cause and the consequences of the crisis we now face”.

Catholic employers are also at fault, he said, and are now predicting a 15% shortfall in staff by 2030.

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