Victorian teachers keep up the fight

April 26, 2008

On April 23, up to 600 public school teachers and their supporters rallied outside state education minister Bronwyn Pike's electoral office, in the final of their four-hour rolling stoppages. The action was part of the current enterprise bargaining agreement (EBA) campaign that commenced on February 26.

The protest was supported by a range of unions, such as the Victorian Independent Education Union, the United Firefighters Union and the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union. Protests also took place at Bundoora and Eltham.

Mary Bluett, Australian Education Union Victorian branch secretary, told the crowd that the state government was shifting the goalposts and was not negotiating in good faith. Bluett was referring to comments made by Pike on ABC Radio that morning, during which she claimed that increased productivity would be an important component of any pay rise for the teachers. She indicated that they would lose three pupil-free days.

The rally was also addressed by Victorian Trades Hall secretary Brian Boyd, who called on teachers to also support the Boeing workers at Hawker de Havilland, who have been out on strike for over two weeks now.

Bluett told Green Left Weekly that the support for the teachers' EBA campaign has been extraordinary and that union membership has increased from 32,500 in November to 36,468 in April due to a strong and active campaign. She also said that the teachers' resolve, high community support and a powerful TV campaign have forced the state Brumby government to commence negotiations and start moving on the teachers' demands such as salary, career structure and contract employment.

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