The Australian Educations Union’s disruptive industrial action this week is extremely disappointing considering the Hodgman Majority Liberal Government has invested significantly in teachers, schools and resources during the past four and half years.
What’s worse is that the union has sought to deliberately mislead Tasmanians about the number of teachers in the public system.
Since we came to Government in 2014, there are now 142 more teachers, 193 more teacher assistants and 63 extra support staff including psychologists, social workers and speech pathologists in our schools.
During the election campaign we listened to teachers’ concerns about workload and class sizes. This is why we committed a record $324 million into education, including 358 more staff, and $192 million into school and training infrastructure.
As part of the current wage negotiation process, the Government committed to recruiting an additional 95 new specialist teachers, starting in 2019 to further address their workload concerns.
We do believe our teachers deserve a pay rise which is why our 6 per cent offer over 3 years, plus the record investment in more teachers and infrastructure, is fair, affordable and addresses the key issues of workload and class sizes.
It remains incredibly disappointing that this fair, reasonable and affordable offer was rejected by the union without being put to members.
By offering a 6 per cent wage increase, which is on top of the annual salary increments received by many teachers, we can keep the budget in balance while investing record amounts into more teachers, more support staff and better school infrastructure.
We have continued to negotiate in good faith and today I wrote to the AEU’s state manager Roz Madsen asking when we might see the union’s counter offer.
While the Government has always been willing to negotiate in good faith, it is disappointing that the union has not.
Tasmanian parents have every right to ask why their family life and child’s education was being disrupted this week when there is a sensible and affordable offer on the table.
This unnecessary industrial action by the union, and endorsed by Rebecca White and Labor, has affected thousands of Tasmanian families.