Finding a way forward

On Friday 4 August the IEU Executive was addressed by the Secretary of Unions NSW, Mark Morey. He spoke of teachers’ deep frustration and resentment since the NSW election.

The promise to remove the 2.5% wage cap has been disregarded.

It is appropriate to look briefly over our shoulder at the past three decades. In essence, the Catholic systemic schools wage parity principle has been in operation all that time.

This means that government school teachers and Catholic systemic teachers in NSW earn the same salaries.

The 2022-3 Catholic campaign (Hear Our Voice) placed IEU members on the street to signal their discontent with severe teacher shortages, workload and salaries not commensurate with other professions.

IEU members marching with the NSW Teachers Federation under a banner ‘The Profession United’ sent a powerful message to the then Coalition government that all was not well in schools and the communities they serve.

Teacher shortages and the impact on teaching and learning was complex. The profession was and remains in crisis.

This joint union activity appears to have been lost on the new Labor government.

A deal done with the NSW Teachers Federation has been torpedoed. The pay arrangement negotiated had a commencing salary of $85K with a top of the scale teacher at $122K (effective October 2023).

The significant uplift was necessary to reset salaries at a level to attract and retain teachers.

Meanwhile, in the ACT a pay salary arrangement has been negotiated that extends teacher salaries from $90K–$129K by 2026. Queensland teachers have achieved similar outcomes. The notion that you can rebuild a profession without the foundations being securely in place is illogical.

Attracting and retaining the existing workforce in NSW hinges on achieving pay outcomes which are comparable to the outcomes in the ACT and Queensland.

Members are contacting the Premier and Education Minister directly by email to signal their disaffection. School communities across NSW deserve better.

The way forward entails restoring the agreement and prioritising the wellbeing of schools.

Schools thrive on certainty and predictability. Put simply, staffing underpins the operation of every school. The IEU calls upon the Premier to “take teacher pay seriously”!

At time of publication, the IEU Executive had passed the following motion:
“Executive notes that negotiations on teacher pay are continuing between the NSW Teachers Federation and NSW Government. This Executive authorises the Secretary to implement protected action should the dispute not be resolved by Friday, 18 August.
“In the meantime, all members are urged to show their support for the campaign by sending a photo of their IEU Chapter urging their local MP to resolve the dispute on teacher pay. IEU will endeavour to get maximum publicity for these actions.”