7 December 2021

Solidarity with NSW public school teachers, who have been forced to strike because the NSW government is intent on imposing a real wage cut, which will only exacerbate a teacher shortage. Dan Hogan: “Public school teachers and principals in New South Wales are striking [today] over the government’s failure to address spiraling shortages, stagnant wages, and unsustainable workloads. All options have been exhausted in negotiations with the NSW Department of Education. We have no other choice but to strike. … It is no secret to staff, students and parents connected to public schools that the state education system is built on the unpaid overtime of teachers. The Department’s decade-long austerity project has driven teachers out of the profession en masse, acted as a deterrent to ward off new talent and created a teacher shortage. Not only has its modus operandi of making teachers work more for less wages (or no wages at all) degraded the working conditions of teachers — it has also overseen a decline in positive education outcomes for students. The Department is yet to acknowledge the direct link between the working conditions of teachers and learning outcomes for students. … Gaining higher wages through industrial action would see the abolition of the government’s 2.5 per cent wages cap, which would be a huge benefit to all public sector workers whose pay and conditions are presently trapped under the cap. … The struggle has been developing since the 2011 imposition of the wages cap. Again, it does not take an overpaid bureaucrat to work out there is a direct link between ten years of declining learning outcomes and a decade of austerity measures. The wages cap has locked in a material decline in teacher wages.”

(This neoliberal approach to public sector salaries is not limited to Liberal governments. The Victorian Labor government uses an even tighter wage cap to avoid real negotiations with its employees over their pay — and in fact is going to further tighten the cap from 2% to just 1.5% next month.)