Secretary’s speech to Sydney rally

Excerpt from IEUA NSW/ACT Branch Secretary Mark Northam’s speech to the joint Sydney rally of the IEU and NSW Teachers Federation, Macquarie Street, on 30 June 2022:

I acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation and pay my respects to Elders past and present.

To the IEU and NSW Teachers Federation members right across NSW and the ACT, I say welcome.

It is a great honour to address this rally. It has been a while: 1996 was the last time the two unions came together in the face of adversity.

Teachers and support staff have been running on goodwill for too long. But now that goodwill has evaporated.

Teacher shortages are impacting school staff on a daily basis. Every day we hear stories of teachers standing between classrooms; the splitting of primary school classes and teachers conducting a senior class while supervising a junior class in the same room. This should not be happening.

Today, we have a special message for Catholic employers and the NSW Government. It’s time to fix this mess!

The NSW Government’s artificial 3% salary cap, which Catholic employers apply to teachers too, must go.

Teaching has become a profoundly more complex job over the past two decades. Yet over that same period, teachers’ salaries have failed to reflect the incredibly demanding nature and increasing complexity of the role.

Take special note of this next point: Catholic Schools NSW has estimated there will be a teacher shortfall of 15 percent by the end of this decade. This equates to 4000 teachers across NSW and the ACT. It is an extraordinary admission that the current system has fundamentally failed.

This situation can only be rectified by raising teaching salaries to be comparable with other like professions; increasing time release to give teachers the capacity to do their jobs; addressing teacher shortages; and ensuring support staff are paid the same as their government school counterparts.

We say to the Perrottet Government and the Catholic employers, it’s time to pay. The very viability of the NSW school system is at risk.

IEU and Teachers Federation members are on their knees. This simply cannot go on. We will no longer accept this wilful damage to our profession.

We are united under pressure and prepared to do whatever it takes to ensure that teachers, support staff, and the students entrusted to their care are given a fair deal and a fair go.