SA teachers protest budget cuts
By Adam Hanieh
ADELAIDE — Seven thousand teachers and supporters rallied on May 30 to protest against expected cuts to the state education budget. The half-day stoppage, organised by the South Australian Institute of Teachers (SAIT), was a stinging criticism of the Brown Liberal government's education policies.
Ninety-five per cent of all metropolitan high schools voted to support the stoppage, and contingents from many country high schools were present.
SAIT is seeking a federal award which it hopes will bring conditions for SA teachers into line with those of other states. Teachers here have the longest work week and the longest year of all Australian teachers; contact time for secondary teachers is 22 hours and 40 minutes in SA, compared to 20 hours for NSW and Victorian teachers.
The federal award, it is hoped, would also provide a salary increase of 6.89% to bring wage levels up to the national average.
Perhaps the most damaging effect of the cut of 422 teachers this year has been the increase in class sizes. A conservative estimate from the Department of Education and Children's Services stated that there are 312 junior secondary classes with more than 31 students. The federal award would set this class size at 27.
The state budget, two days after the rally, announced an immediate funding cut of $14 million to education, with another $40 million to be cut over the next three years.