The Socialist Alliance released the statement below on September 4.
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Over the past 12 months, the Ted Baillieu state government has stepped up attacks on Victorian workers.
Nurses were forced to take nine months of unprecedented levels of industrial action, with threats of jail hanging over their heads, to win their claim.
Public servants were forced into compulsory arbitration and are now feeling the loss of thousands of jobs and the cutting of public services.
Construction workers were viciously attacked by hundreds of police for peacefully protesting outside the Grocon Myer Emporium building site over the right to elect their union representatives.
The only Victorian workers who won a pay claim without taking industrial action were the police. They got a 19% pay rise over four years after violently evicting Occupy Melbourne protesters in October last year.
Now teachers and the education sector are Baillieu’s latest targets.
Since becoming premier, Baillieu has slashed more than $2 billion dollars from education, with the closure of TAFE campuses, the cutting of hundreds of TAFE courses, a $48 million cut to the VCAL (Victorian Certificate of Applied Learning) program, and cuts to the school start bonus and education maintenance allowance for poorer families with school aged children.
Socialist Alliance congratulates the teachers on organising the two statewide stoppages. These are important shows of strength to take the fight up to Baillieu. However, a sustained industrial campaign is needed to force Baillieu to back down.
Despite his election promises, Baillieu has set out on a path to privatise and cut the public sector, hold pay rises well below inflation and de-unionise workers.
This is why the government is smashing the public TAFE system to bits with its massive $300 million cut. This will result in the loss of more than 2000 full-time jobs and thousands of teaching jobs.
Even before these cuts, private providers of vocational education have been getting more government funding than public TAFEs. They have very little accountability and have no responsibility to help disadvantaged students.
The TAFE cuts are so severe that they seem irrational, unless you understand the government’s agenda is to privatise vocational education and wind down public TAFEs.
If the government succeeds with substantially dismantling the TAFE system, the next step is schools and health services. The Queensland and New South Wales governments are also slashing public services and attacking state sector workers.
The only way to respond to the Baillieu government is by:
• The Australian Education Union (AEU) to initiate a broader community campaign, involving weekend public rallies, to save the public education system.
• Sustained industrial action.
• United AEU action between TAFE workers and teachers in the secondary, primary and pre-school sector to save our public education system.
• Stronger solidarity between workers and unions from different industries, supporting each others’ campaigns.