NSW secondary and primary public school teachers will stop work for two hours on November 2 to consider any salary offer from the state government. Should no fair and reasonable offer be made, the meetings will consider taking a 24-hour strike at the end of November.
The NSW Teachers Federation (NSWTF) is demanding Barry O’Farrell’s government begin good faith negotiations immediately.
The federation has proposed an offer, but the Liberal state government has failed to respond or begin negotiations for a new salaries award.
The current award agreement expires on December 31. In the past, new award negotiations have taken several months. The new state industrial laws do not allow retrospective payments, which explains why the government is delaying negotiations.
The NSW government wages policy requires the government’s Wages Policy Task Force or its Expenditure Review Committee to begin the bargaining process three months before an existing industrial agreement expires and before an offer is made.
But it also requires government agencies to approach negotiations in a cooperative manner, which the O’Farrell government has failed to do.
So far, there is no evidence of compliance with either the spirit or the word of these aspects of the Wages Policy. Alarmingly, by failing to make any offer and trying to change the employment arrangements of thousands of TAFE teachers without notice or negotiation, the government seems intent on disrupting and delaying negotiations.
TAFE teachers who are rostered to work are prohibited from taking part in the November 2 stopwork and face severe fines if they take part in industrial action.