Rank-and-file teachers have launched a ticket to contest the New South Wales Teachers Federation elections, which started on August 17 and run until September 20. Its focus is: “Pay up, workload down and relaunch our industrial campaign.”
The “Vote 4 Action” ticket, launched on August 12, is fielding Chris Breen for president, John Morris for deputy president and Matt Meagher for senior vice-president.
Breen, a mathematics teacher at Concord High School, told the ticket launch he was running because he’s angry about teachers’ lack of pay amid an ever-increasing workload.
“Teachers have been hit so hard with the rise of inflation and the lack of a pay rise; some are getting second jobs.” He said NSW Labor's 4% pay rise offer was “totally inadequate”.
Breen said the low offer exacerbates the teacher shortages. “Teachers employed on a casual basis have similar duties and responsibilities to full-time workers. It is very difficult to staff schools in poorer areas.”
The NSW Teachers Federation's strategy of “waiting for Labor to deliver” has not worked. “Most teachers can see that action, other than talking to your local MP, is needed.” Breen said the “one-day strikes by themselves are ineffective”. “The leadership called off strikes last October to prioritise an election campaign. We are paying the price for this lost momentum.”
With no agreement in place to fight casualisation, and inadequate commitments for TAFE funding, Breen said an industrial campaign to force Premier Chris Minns back to the table was needed.
“Labor is vulnerable. It promised to pay us more. Almost 8000 people have signed the petition against Labor’s pay rise betrayal.”
Long-term teacher and union activist John Gauci said that all union members who disagree with the leadership’s lobbying strategy need to be approached to help the Vote 4 Action ticket.
“The incumbent faction has argued against any form of serious industrial action for over a decade,” he told Green Left. “They are the ones that have got us into the position we are in today. They have had almost four years to win real gains in our wages and working conditions, and have failed.”
Gauci said that the union needed to become truly democratic “where members can debate and collectively decide the course of action they are prepared to take at mass meetings”.
Teachers have been rallying outside Labor MPs offices to urge Labor to recommit to a decent pay rise.