Thousands of teachers are rallying at NSW Parliament to push for better pay

Public school teachers from across NSW are protesting outside NSW Parliament as part of statewide industrial action over pay and conditions.

Teachers march on Parliament House during a strike by NSW public school teachers and principals in Sydney, Tuesday, 7 December, 2021.

Teachers march on Parliament House during a strike by NSW public school teachers and principals in Sydney, Tuesday, 7 December, 2021. Source: AAP

Thousands of NSW public school teachers are rallying at NSW Parliament as part of a campaign of statewide industrial action to push for better pay and conditions.

Teachers from Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong and the Blue Mountains gathered at Hyde Park in Sydney's CBD on Tuesday, before marching to parliament.

Many of those on strike are wearing red t-shirts and carrying placards supporting the NSW Teachers Federation, which has organised the action that has closed almost 400 state schools for 24 hours.

The teachers say the government has failed to address unsustainable workloads, uncompetitive salaries and staff shortages.

They want a pay increase up to 7.5 per cent a year to reverse the decline in teachers' wages compared to other professions.

It's the first time in almost a decade that NSW teachers have walked off the job in scenes reminiscent of the industrial turmoil of the 1980s.

Union president Angelo Gavrielatos said the government was in denial about the ongoing effect on staffing issues at state public schools.

The government also lacked a coherent strategy to fill 3000 vacant positions and recruit 11,000 teachers the state needs in the next decade.

"There's frustration across the teaching service and growing resentment," he told the ABC on Tuesday.

"We're heading straight into a perfect storm. Teachers shortages are upon us (and) they'll get worse with a dramatic increase in student enrolments.

"We don't have the teachers we need and if we don't pay teachers what they're worth, we just won't get them."

Teachers seen in Hyde Park during a strike by NSW public school teachers and principals in Sydney, Tuesday, 7 December, 2021.
Source: AAP

Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said teachers have been offered a 2.5 per cent wage increase, the maximum the government can offer under its public sector wages policy, and wants to work collaboratively with the union addressing teacher shortages.

"We seem to hit a brick wall every time we try to talk about these matters," she told the Nine Network on Tuesday.

"Children have had a tough year already and parents have been disrupted by COVID. We need to be in the classroom and I am disappointed that they have taken this approach."

Meanwhile, train and bus services across Sydney and train services to the Hunter Valley, Blue Mountains and Central Coast are also being disrupted by industrial action, with 70 per cent of trains not running.

On Monday bus drivers in the inner west went on strike, with unions calling on the state government to demand its contractor Transit Systems negotiate over a two-tier wage system that has some workers earning less than others for doing the same job.

That industrial action continued on Tuesday with drivers from Sydney's southwest striking, before drivers from both regions stop work for two hours on Friday afternoon.

Bus commuters looking for alternative transport will be short of options, with train drivers refusing to operate the foreign-made trains that run about three quarters of the services.

Sydney Trains chief executive Matt Longland said the strikes were disappointing after more than 40 meetings between Sydney Trains, NSW TrainLink and the union.

However the union said the leaders with whom they want to negotiate have only just started coming to the table.

The union wants an end to privatisation, safety standards maintained and a commitment to retaining current hygiene levels while not relying on contractors to provide it.

Mr Longland said employees had been offered a 2.5 per cent pay increase, inclusive of superannuation.

Transport for NSW said Tuesday's strikes meant services would run to a reduced frequency on most lines, make additional station stops and take longer to reach their destination.


Published 7 December 2021 at 7:55am, updated 7 December 2021 at 11:19am
Source: AAP - SBS