Victorian schools dispute partially settled
By Ann Steele
MELBOURNE — On October 29, the Kirner government finally decided to honour its industrial agreement with the Victorian Secondary Teachers Association (VSTA). The decision came just two days before a planned statewide stop-work by high school teachers.
The stop-work meetings would almost certainly have voted to put an immediate and irrevocable ban on the next stage of the implementation of the Victorian Certificate of Education (which replaces the old higher school certificate).
However, the Federated Teachers Union of Victorian (FTUV), the other major teachers union involved in the eight-week-long campaign against job losses, is still in dispute with the government. The government refuses to honour an industrial agreement on primary schools which now face the loss of more than 700 jobs next year because of $83 million in budget cuts to state education.
FTUV secondary councillor Michael O'Reilly told Green Left: "The FTUV will continue its campaign of rolling stoppages and bans. By honouring only the VSTA agreement, the government is hoping to further divide teacher unions".
A large turnout by teachers, parents and students at a rally on November 3 gave FTUV members confidence that the government would soon be forced to honour the agreement. The Victorian Trades Hall Council threatened on October 31 to call other unions involved in schools to support the FTUV if the government did not honour the primary school agreement within a week.
VSTA state councillor Norrian Rundle said that the unwillingness of the leaderships of both unions to carry out a joint campaign or to amalgamate the unions continues to weaken the capacity of teachers to defend state education.