Sunday, August 3, 2008

EBA3, heroes and the teacher wage claim

I was wrong. I admit it. I underestimated the resolve of key elements pushing for a significant wage increase and the ability of the union president to annoy her members. The wage claim is not dead and the latest EBA is likely to fail, so says the West Australian. It sounds like arbitration here we come.

If not for Anne Gisbourne (SSTUWA president), I would have thought that the wage claim would have been accepted and we would have had our conditions reduced for minimal additional remuneration. She, through her support for an ill defined pay increase, polarised teachers against the deal and has taken the focus away from Professor Twomey's support of the proposed pay rise. I would suggest her internet monologues selling the agreement have not helped matters - better silent than inflamatory.

A second smaller group of people(7) in the union executive has now split from Anne and openly condemned the new agreement. These people have been labelled heroes as they are standing against their employer and against the union president, will be marked as activists and may have their opportunity for advancement in DET and the union limited. Marko Vojkovic (quoted in previous blogs) stands with these heroes as the one with most to lose. Employed in a DET school he openly is criticising his employer and the union executive. He is standing for a principle. If the current agreement was accepted he (I imagine) knows that the morale and conditions of DET schools will continue to decrease and quality of education continue to erode. He has made a rare stand and is to be applauded.

We now stand at a cross road. Can the government back down from its current position and make a statement that it supports state school education? Can teachers get the message across that teaching in WA is in crisis and that the pay claim is not an inflationary increase but a redress of the inequity in teacher wages to other equivalently trained occupations? Can other unions be convinced that teachers are a special case (police, nurses, public servants, building industry) and not press for similar claims at this time?

How can this wage deal be done, have a public supportive of the agreement and not trigger inflationary pressure?

Watch this space.

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