Finley teacher strike tomorrow
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.