BY NOREEN NAVIN
SYDNEY — Community rallies and protests have resulted in the postponement of the NSW Labor government's plan to close and "restructure" several Sydney schools until 2003. However, public outrage has not prevented education minister John Aquilina from announcing that some schools will close in 2003.
At the most recent rally on May 30, a candlelight vigil called by the NSW Teachers' Federation (NSWTF) and attended by about 200 people, the only pro-active announcement came from Graeme Childes, a Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union representative, who pledged that NSW unions would implement "green bans" on any construction at school sites until community consent has been given.
The NSWTF response is out of kilter with the degree of the attacks from the government. While the NSWTF has called for Aquilina's resignation, it is time for an all-out strike. Instead, the NSWTF leadership has undermined the rank and files' sentiment for action. At the last central council meeting, although hotly debated, it was agreed that a meeting of delegates, restricted to only three teachers from each school including the principal, attend a Sky Channel meeting on June 13.
While the NSWTF appears to have decided to run dead on the issue, community organised campaigns, rallies and meetings are absolutely essential to keep up the momentum to save Sydney's schools. Teacher activists must maintain the pressure on NSWTF at school and association levels to call serious strike action.
To get involved in the Save Our Schools campaign, contact Noreen 0415 437 997 or John 0438 641 587.