NSW teachers in 24-hour strike


NSW teachers in 24-hour strike

By Rose McCann

SYDNEY — NSW school teachers voted overwhelmingly at meetings around the state on May 28 to strike for 24 hours on June 3. A mass meeting will be held at Sydney's Hordern Pavilion on that day. Further stoppages are being planned.

The strike is another step in the NSW Teachers Federation's four-year campaign against the Greiner government's systematic dismantling of the public education system and its program of drastically reducing the rights and conditions of teachers.

The government and Department of School Education are attempting to portray the union's decision as "a strike in search of a cause". In reality, the plan to devolve responsibility for the hiring of staff to the local school will lead to greater educational inequality.

Devolution of staffing budgets to local schools is described by the federation as a divide-and-rule tactic that will lead to an education system based upon market forces and to privatisation of public education.

The plan allows government to avoid its responsibility to provide an adequate and equitable system.

The wealthier a school community and the greater its willingness to seek extra funding, including through corporate sponsorship, the better its prospects for meeting students' educational needs.

The poorer a school is, the fewer choices it will have. Schools that cannot afford the right mix and number of teachers will be forced to increase class sizes and/or the number of composite classes, reduce subject offerings, cut teachers' salaries and conditions or employ less qualified and less experienced teachers for senior positions simply because they cost less.

The government's plans are the outcome of the Scott Report recommendations, drawn up three years ago and adopted by the then minister for education, Terry Metherell, without any consultation with the teaching profession or the community.

In 1990 an external council of review was set up to monitor the progress of the Scott Report's program. The chair of this review was Brian Scott, who headed the consultants' team that recommended the changes in the first place!

According to Phil Cross, NSWTF president, "the review urges speeding up the implementation process and has got 'political' panic scattered throughout its report because of the vulnerability of this government".