Fin­ley teacher strike to­mor­row

Southern Riverina news - - News - By Marissa Daly

FIN­LEY High School teach­ers will join with nurses, po­lice, firefighters and other pub­lic sec­tor work­ers for a 24-hour strike on Thurs­day.

Sev­eral lo­cal teach­ers will also join a pub­lic sec­tor protest rally in Al­bury to­mor­row as part of the strike.

The state wide ‘day of action’ is be­ing held in protest of the NSW Gov­ern­ment’s plans to ‘‘stunt in­dus­trial re­la­tions ne­go­ti­a­tions’’.

It fol­lows an O’Far­rell Gov­ern­ment pro­posal to cap pub­lic sec­tor wage in­creases at 2.5 per cent, un­less ‘demon­strated sav­ings’ can be proven.

The pro­posal also lim­its the in­volve­ment of the In­dus­trial Re­la­tions Com­mis­sion (IRC), which Fin­ley Teach­ers As­so­ci­a­tion sec­re­tary Michael Scif­fer de­scribed as a ‘‘huge con­cern for wages pol­icy’’.

‘‘The min­is­ter can change the award wage at any time and we do not have the right of ap­peal,’’ Mr Scif­fer said.

‘‘The in­dus­trial com­mis­sion used to act as an in­de­pen­dent um­pire, now they can only fol­low what the gov­ern­ment says.’’

Mr Scif­fer crit­i­cised NSW Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter Adrian Pic­coli who he says sup­ports the new leg­is­la­tion.

‘‘Coming from Grif­fith you would think Adrian un­der­stood the dif­fi­cul­ties we have in at­tract­ing teach­ers to the Rive­rina.

‘‘In­stead he is happy to cut the fund­ing of ru­ral pub­lic schools.’’

Mr Scif­fer said the new rules were a lot worse than ‘Work Choices’ - which in­volved con­tro­ver­sial amend­ments to the Work­place Re­la­tions Act, 1996 un­der the Howard fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

‘‘Un­der Work Choices we still had an in­de­pen­dent com­mis­sion, this leaves us backed into a cor­ner.’’

He said the pol­icy had ma­jor im­pli­ca­tions for all pub­lic sec­tor em­ploy­ees, say­ing it could coun­ter­act all the award con­di­tions achieved to date.

‘‘These demon­strated sav­ings will mean reduced leave, reduced sick leave and reduced staff num­bers.

‘‘It may save the gov­ern- ment money but the last thing we want is to see teach­ers reduced and class sizes be­ing raised.’’

While the FTA un­der­stand there are fi­nan­cial con­straints, they should not be at the ex­pense of the awards we have all fought so hard for, Mr Scif­fer added.

Fin­ley High School Fed­er­a­tion rep­re­sen­ta­tive Matthew Whitty de­scribed the pol­icy as “deeply dis­ap­point­ing’’.

‘‘The state gov­ern­ment has stripped teach­ers of the right to a fair hear­ing by an in­de­pen­dent um­pire through the NSW In­dus­trial Re­la­tions Com­mis­sion.

‘‘In­stead, to get a pay rise that even matches in­fla­tion pub­lic schools will have to in­crease class sizes or cut teacher train­ing.

‘‘Worse still, after we do set­tle a new award the gov­ern­ment can uni­lat­er­ally cut our con­di­tions with no right of ap­peal,’’ Mr Whitty said.

Fin­ley High School prin­ci­pal Bernie Roe­buck said the school would be closed to­mor­row un­til Fri­day morn­ing.

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