Posted September 05, 2020 06:27:07 When a number of teachers union members strike in Queensland, it is not the first time unions have gone on strike.
The Australian Educators Union (AEU) has long campaigned for better conditions for teachers, and has used strikes to push for a fair wage for teachers.
However, the ABC has learnt the union’s first strike in six years will not be replicated.
It is the first strike by a teaching union in Queensland since 2011.
ABC education reporter Chris Poulter is in Brisbane, where a meeting of the union is being held.
This morning, he is joined by union members and their families, including two who have children at the state school.
“We’ve been very much in the spotlight and the media, but we’re not going back to the days when we had to put on our hats, stand outside our classrooms and walk our children out,” said Chris Poulster.
He says he has heard from teachers who are still in their classrooms, and that they feel threatened by the prospect of further strikes.
Chris Poulsters talks to members of the AEAU at the Brisbane Teachers’ Conference.
What is striking about the teachers strike is the level of vitriol directed towards teachers.
They say the union does not represent their interests, and are threatening to leave the workplace.
As Chris Pulster interviews the teachers, they are frustrated and angry.
One teacher is upset with the union, and is not convinced it will respect their concerns.
We want to be able to say that our children are going to be safe, Chris Poulos says.
Teachers have been forced to spend weeks on the road, and many of them have had to take sick leave to avoid strike action.
A teacher is angry at the union for its “staggering” demands, and says it has not been working hard enough to provide good conditions.
At a press conference at the AECU’s headquarters in Brisbane yesterday, the president of the Australian Education Union, Tom Watson, warned that “our members will not walk off the job”.
“There is a very real fear for teachers in Queensland and in NSW and in Victoria,” he said.
In the first two weeks of the strike, over 3,000 teachers have taken part in strikes, according to the union.
They are protesting against the proposed changes to the teaching contract which are expected to be introduced by the State Government this week.
These proposals would mean a $15 per hour minimum wage for all teachers, as well as a freeze on the amount teachers can earn during their first year.
Mr Watson said the proposed pay cuts are “a very serious blow to education”.
He said the union had made the “decision to walk off” from the strike.
“There are hundreds of thousands of teachers across the state, who have taken this decision,” Mr Watson said.
“This is a decision that we have made.
We will not sit back and let them continue to do that.”
Mr Watson warned that if the Government were to introduce the pay cuts, it would affect thousands of jobs.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, teachers make an average of $28,500 a year, while the average age of teachers is 25.
While some teachers have left the profession to take other roles, Mr Watson says he believes it is important to have a voice.
‘The teachers have been treated as slaves’Mr Watson says teachers should be paid the same as other employees.
That is because there are no restrictions on how much they can earn, and the union has proposed the pay raise be phased in over time.
But Mr Watson also warned that many teachers are not willing to accept a pay cut, saying the proposed cuts were “unacceptable”.
Teacher Mike O’Keefe has been teaching in his family’s small rural town for almost 40 years.
Mike O’Dea is an experienced teacher and says he feels like a slave.
His two children are now in secondary school, and he says the proposed salary increases are “very unacceptable”.
Mike says he is not going to walk away from his job because of the pay changes.
“[My children] will be better off,” he says.
“I will still teach them, but I’m not going away.”
“I don’t think there’s a choice in the matter,” Mr O’Keefe added.
Some teachers have criticised the union as not being serious about their demands.
Australian Educators’ Union president Tom Watson (left) with members of his delegation during a press call at the National Teachers Conference in Brisbane.
Another teacher, who was not named in this story, said the proposals would be a “big step backwards” for teachers and students.
Tom Watson says the union was “a