Thursday, 22 May 2008

Teachers walk out

Teachers will stage a 24-hour strike today following the NSW government's refusal to negotiate over new staffing arrangements.

The strike, which the union has flagged as the beginning of a wider industrial campaign, is expected to disrupt classes at all public schools in NSW.

Education Minister John Della Bosca said while some schools would be forced to close, the majority would provide supervision for students.

Teachers from 2,200 public schools and 400 TAFE colleges will rally in Sydney as part of the strike over the changes, in particular a phase-out of the service transfer scheme.

The scheme gives priority in appointments to teachers who accumulate points for years of service in remote areas or other regions where it is difficult to attract staff.

The government wants school principals to have the power to directly employ staff, and not necessarily take them from the transfer list.

NSW Teachers Federation vice-president Gary Zadkovich said yesterday schools would struggle to retain teachers without the scheme.

"This industrial campaign will continue. There will be further disruption to student's education. Parents will be inconvenienced," Mr Zadkovich said.

"No one wants this. We appeal to the minister, to the director-general, (to) return to the negotiation table. We can work this out."

But Mr Della Bosca said the government would not back down, saying the changes give teachers better employment options.

"We can't budge on this position because it's good for public education ... to make sure that schools have a say in the teachers that come to their schools," he said.

Mr Della Bosca said the federation's threat of more strikes was regrettable.

"It's something that shouldn't happen," he said.

Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell lambasted the government's failure to reach a deal.

"It's never acceptable to use the public as a bargaining chip in a dispute between the government and any union," Mr O'Farrell said.

Parents also have urged teachers and the government to reach a compromise, saying students were the ones who would ultimately suffer.

"Parents care greatly about the future of the teaching profession, but its discussions and actions should not impact the teaching and learning that occurs in the classroom," NSW P&C president Dianne Giblin said.

Updated: 2:00pm (AEST)

Teachers to continue strikes

NSW teachers will continue rolling industrial action next month until the government changes its plans.

Thousands of teachers have turned out for a rally in Sydney today outside the state government and education department offices at Farrer Place.

Waving colourful banners and signs lampooning Education Minister John Della Bosca, the rallying teachers chanted "quality teachers here we are, Della Bosca's gone too far".

NSW Teachers Federation president Maree O'Halloran said industrial action was set to continue next month.

On June 14, teachers would vote on another statewide strike to be held early in term three, which begins on July 28, she said.

"For 15 years, teachers have been able to negotiate with both Labor and coalition governments a mixed staffing system which contains local choice and transfers," Ms O'Halloran said in a statement.

"With 16,000 teachers eligible to retire by 2012, it is clearly possible to allow transfers to occur and accommodate more local choice.

"However, finding a solution does require both parties to be willing to negotiate.

"Teachers stand ready to do so in the interests of public education."

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