Bid to ward off strike

TRIO: Wodonga Middle Years College staff Kim O’Shea, Kylie Fortington, and Jordan Wakeling say workload demands are increasing with the rise of email as a way to interact with students after hours. Picture: SIMON BAYLISS Benambra MP Bill Tilley has urged North East teachers to talk to him amid reports of a looming strike in the coming months.

The comment comes after the Australian Education Union revealed its Victorian teachers, principals and support staff decided to take steps towards industrial action against what they say are unsustainable workloads.

But Mr Tilley said noteachers in his electorate had voiced their concerns with him since a media campaign by the AEU was launched this month.

“We can’t make a point of difference or raise concerns with the government of the day unless we’re told about those problems in detail,”he said.

“Our doors are always open. Let’s get a better understanding of what’s happening for the sake of our kids.”

The union has saidit will make an application to the Fair Work Commission for a ballot of members to authorise industrial action.

Whether it will be a full-blown strike is unclear.In the past the AEU has stagedwork-to-ruleprotests, where teachers refuse to carry out non-teaching duties after hours.

Wodonga Middle Years College teacher Kim O’Shea, who has long campaigned for the union, said workloads had become unsustainable.

“Compared with other countries there is a huge workload for teachers in Australia, which ultimately has an effect on student outcomes that suffer,”she said.

“Teaching is unique in that teachers need and do take their work home. Not only that, with email and phone now, it’s not surprising for teachers to be receiving emails from students and replying to them. So this means they’re interacting out of hours.”

Mr Tilley linked increasingworkloads to the Safe Schools program, whichhe is strongly opposed to.

“It may well take time out of their preparation and time they have in front of the class, absolutely,”he said.

A report calledEducation at a Glance released last year found Australian teachers have bigger classes and more working hours than the OECD average.

But italso said primary school teachers start their working life on a healthysalary of $53,265 – much higher than the OECD averageof $41,539.

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