Showing posts with label EBA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label EBA. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Union president and lack of representative integrity

Anne Gisborne, president of the SSTUWA, is again out whoring the latest EBA attempt. Her actions are disgraceful.

A person in a representative capacity should not have made this comment in the media:

"Teachers union president Anne Gisborne admitted its members were running out of reasons to end the long-running pay dispute with the Government after the in-principle pay agreement."

Who is she to decide what her members should think? That is why members have a vote. She has been elected to represent members views even when member views are not her own (the last vote proved that members do not share her voice and thus she should keep it reserved until she again has member support). If she does cannot represent members and put her own views aside when it disagrees with members then she should step down.

It doesn't take blind Freddy to see that this union faces extinction if it continues to not heed the mandate given by its own State council and continue to act irresponsibly towards its members. The acts of the genuine few believers will not be enough to stem the tide of those leaving the union. Unfortunately the outcome will be no true public school system (other than a safety net), pay per use education and further movement to a multiple class society.

Monday, November 3, 2008

EBA4 Teacher pay rise and the new offer

Here is a link to the DET summary of EBA4

General opinion seems to be to accept the offer which is around 20% over three years (including the 6% we already have) with the next pay increase scheduled for October 09. No back pay to the last agreement. No 15 hrs unpaid overtime (eg. compulsory PD).

I can't say that I am excited - but will be glad when I can focus on teaching and all the fuss about wages and conditions stops.

I suppose I think back to the original questions posed at the start of the campaign.
  • Has the new EBA created a profession with salary and conditions that will attract new teachers? No.
  • Does the new EBA create conditions that will keep existing teachers within the system? No.
  • Has the new EBA energised teachers within classrooms by making a statement that they are a valued part of the community? No.
  • Should we fight further? No. In an economic downturn we should lick our wounds and stand aside.

To my mind the whole EBA process has been a lost opportunity, but now is not the time to resume this fight, it is a time to regroup, accept the small gains and prepare as one (DET, teachers, union, community, media, government) to create a feeling that education is the most critical element of our society.

When we better appreciate, evaluate and express publicly the positive contribution education makes to the community, then and only then will large increases to teaching budgets and salaries be justified.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Being paid less than a dog walker

-> November 2008 update: click here

The government has just announced a 6% pay rise backdated to September 2. I congratulate the Liberal party for 'making good' on an election promise in the limited time frame stated. I await rather cynically to find out how long it takes to move through parliament and the DET paymaster.

Much fanfare was made by the media that this makes WA teachers the highest paid in Australia. Again we have clear misleading of the public through indirection rather than an investigation of the underlying issues and the reporting of a clear opinion based on a justifiable set of associated facts. Lazy journalism rather than investigative journalism relying on media releases rather than reasoned facts.

Why boast about teachers being the highest paid.. it's like waving a red rag at bull. My wife made the comment, "highest paid what? Dog walkers??" She earns considerably more than I do in an occupation where typically there is no educational requirement. There is clear inequity in teacher salaries and it needs redressing - not window dressing.

A forum entry on the Plato website lists wages in WA to be:
"The six per cent increase would see a first-year teacher’s annual salary grow
from $48,425 to $51,331, a senior teacher’s salary from $70,868 to $75,120,
a principal of a small school (under 100 students) from $77,744 to $82,409
and a principal of a large school (more than 700 students) from $114,593 to

After the increase a teacher salary is about $24.70 an hour for a 4 year degree trained graduate or $36.12 an hour for a senior teacher (salary ÷ 52 weeks ÷ 5 days ÷ 8 hours). My last car service (on a Camry) was $427. I don't even want to think what that apprentice doing my oil change was earning. In the gap between uni and teaching I was earning $30 per hour shifting boxes from one site to another.

ABS stated on the first of April 2008, the average wage in WA in 2007 was $1185.80 pw or $61,000 per year (this includes an adjustment for gender). If we are trying to attract people from industry into teaching, they will (in an average case) take at least a $10,000 pay cut on entry to the profession.

In international terms teacher wages would be 31, 216 USD (21,109 Eur) for a graduate and 52,792 USD (38,825 Eur) for a senior teacher with at least 7 years experience that can get their accreditation granted and credited in WA. "Move to Australia, have sub-habitable conditions in inhospitable regions and take pay just above the cost of living. It's a great adventure, you should do it now!!" Strangely this campaign failed to attract the number of teachers required in the short to medium term.

We expect teachers to take full responsibility for classrooms in their first year out and this responsibility does not change significantly throughout their career. For this they are paid $10,000 under the average wage. I can't imagine the financial strain some are feeling starting a family and getting a mortgage on a teaching salary especially when you consider repaying HECS fees, recovery from the loss of income during study and the distance/support issues with potential country postings. Each year we see TEE scores for teaching drop and pre-requisites fall by the wayside for specialist and core subjects (who remembers the 3 month bridging course idea that thankfully was dropped!).

I have also seen two friends and great teachers in the last two years quit teaching for financial reasons. In no industry are you expected to get a four year university degree, on starting work be directly responsible for the management of 30 (potentially aggressive) people at once (and 150 over the year), be expected to drive the formation of the social fabric of a community, take leave when suitable to your employer, potentially move away from home for years at a time to inhospitable regions and be paid well below the average wage. Teaching has been made an undesirable occupation for too many.

If you have survived financially after working in your subject area for 7 years, becoming a specialist in your field, you may get a premium of $10,000 over the average wage. If you are any good you may be encouraged to take an administrative role and be promoted in many cases to incompetence. Or you could spend two years going to courses learning how to submit an application for level 3 promoting yourself. Whoopee! It is just as well those remaining in the profession are as dedicated to the students and social good as you would think, otherwise you would suspect that they are of sub-par intelligence for putting up with all this.

We need to forward plan for the shortfalls in teaching staff projected for 2009/2010 and arrest the increase in resignations (graphs taken from PlatoWA website). Teachers have low morale at present and need a positive outlook in order to work effectively. Any real benefit must be sold to both teachers and the community through the media to make both appreciate the needs and benefits of change.

It is quite clear that to regain the position of teachers as professionals in the community and rectify morale issues, there needs to be a 10K increase now and another 10K in 3 years time with CPI increases in the interim. The issue is that it will cost an extra $523 million dollars p.a. It is money that must be spent to preserve the state school system. A monitoring system could then be instigated to ensure that the wage position of teachers in society does not change (with periodic reviews against top 10 occupations - similar to the politician wage fixing system). This is a minimum negotiating position for the restoration of the status of teaching as an occupation in society and could be sold to teachers.

Society values the dollar more than any factor when setting status and only when it is fought for. I fear the only effective method available for teachers to fight with at present is for strikes during TEE to create an understanding for the need for change stemming from the community. If society believes that state education is a requirement but does not believe teachers do a required job, then it should be reminded - if teachers stop working when it will hurt most - society may realise the critical role they play and the lack of alternative courses for students that are effective.

Teachers being caring and nurturing want to avoid this situation at all costs, even to their own detriment; because of this they are constantly taken advantage of. To avoid the strike action (that no-one wants - but clearly is in the best interests of teachers and society) there needs to be a media campaign with discussion of the worth of teachers; establish fair monetary value of their sacrifice in becoming teachers and value their contribution in the community over and above contributions of other occupations - teachers ARE an exception (this is what lifting the status of a profession entails). This would restore morale in the teaching sector, improve recruitment and justify/allow/promote some levels of rationalisation in the short term to correct perceived deficiencies in classroom teaching and school performance. This is something political parties, the business community and the media has to support.

Make the change and attract real teachers. Reward those within the system that have striven to keep standards high. Create a situation where sub par applicants can be redirected to other occupations within or outside education.

From dire times have always come great leaders. Let's hope that leader is going to stand up soon.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Teacher Pay rise, EBA 3

Well, it's official. Teachers have voted no to EBA3. About 65% voted no. We will not be getting a lower than inflation pay rise.

It will be interesting to see how the public and the new state government (whoever it is) responds.

This was the same pay rise that the union said was great... yet the majority of union members thought otherwise. The union was not representing the wishes of its members and believed negative publicity would change the minds of teachers. I suggest that there are a few members of the executive (re: President and secretary) that are in trouble at the next union election.

Who was the union representing if not the teachers and administration of schools during this negotiation - personal self interest? I would join a union that represented my interests, the interests of my colleagues and clearly researched goals for public education.

Clearly the SSTUWA does not do this and is following its own agenda that is leading to poor morale and teaching standards. It is appalling. Some housekeeping is now necessary.

Reporting in the media (the ABC in particular, though the West and commercial stations are similarly guilty at times) keep stating a 16-21% pay rise. What they fail to mention is that this is 16-21% over three years and the final 2% is applied on the last day of the agreement. For a fair comparison we should take 16-21% subtract 2 and divide by three. Thus for the majority 4% per year which at best is 1% + inflation or perhaps 2.3% + inflation if you are at the lucky end.

This type of reporting by the media actively misleads the public into believing that a 16-21% (in one year) pay rise is being declined by teachers and administrators. Government employees or consultants employed by the government being trotted out in support of the government proposal is not supplying an independent or well researched viewpoint.

The current payrise and activism by teachers is intended to redress the lack of parity in teacher wage claims over the last 15 years, raise awareness over OBE issues and address the constant reduction in conditions in the vocation (a major cause of the current teacher shortage). A 1% + inflation payrise with reduced conditions does not correct this parity issue.

A better solution would have been to bump the entire payscales by say $10,000 this budget and again by $10,000 in three years time and only apply CPI to incremental scales for the life of the EBA. This would have established parity without misleading percentages and recreated an attractive profession to graduates by creating entry and exit points comparable to like 4 year university graduate careers.

Perhaps our new premier Mr Barnett will take note.

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.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Death of the Twomey Report

The Twomey report has been a rallying cry for teachers in WA when seeking salary increases. With Lance Twomey speaking in favour of the proposed EBA3, it pretty much rings the death knell of the wage claim. Without that report, there is no direct, researched support for increases of wages in Western Australia. If the union was serious about real wage change, it would have a well researched document of its own that could not be derailed like the Twomey report.

To some extent I'm glad because teacher concern about wages has removed many education issues from the agenda such as new courses of study in year 11 & 12, inequity of current grading of students in disadvantaged areas, teacher training, the development of real and useful professional development and modernisation of curriculum.

As state school teachers we need to imagine a government education system as a safety net in metropolitan areas and a limited service to rural areas. The changes to the EBA have targeted these two areas with significant pay rises. If this trend continues, these fringe services may become well enough paid to make them attractive. University entrance would be further restricted to those that can afford private education or be in the far end of the IQ spectrum capable of gaining scholarships.

I wouldn't be surprised if an 'ABC learning' type organisation starts entering the system and managing larger state schools on a profit basis. This sounded like what was described by the opposition in their education policy.

With current social changes and the reduction in public amenities provided by government, I can't see a return to well funded high schools with teachers and students able to rival private/independent schools in the near future.

As much as I would like and endeavour to make so.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

EBA3, WA teachers' pay claim and DET

Trolling through the blog log I've noticed lots of searching for details on the new EBA. I'm not an expert but the best explanation that I've found (as we are still waiting on the union and DET detailed explanations) can be found here (again by Marko Vojkovic): - sadly this forum is now closed (updated 1/8/2009)

The new proposal doesn't seem to live up to the hype in the newspapers or the video release by the union (about half way down the following hyperlink.. click on the unflattering picture of Anne Gisborne for nine minutes of monotone summary):

The net result seems to be at best a 1% increase and at worst a 2% decrease after inflation is applied with significant loss in conditions. It does not seem to be inline with Twomey recommendations. We shall await more detail.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Teaching salary and pay claim

The pay claim in WA is not about annual percentage increase. It's about about redressing the lack of increases over a long period of time. The reasons for teachers falling behind other professions by at least $20,000 are many and varied but the ramifications have been widespread.
  1. Students no longer see teaching as a desirable profession - TEE scores are low
  2. Teacher morale is low
  3. The perception of teachers in the community is low - we are seen as those that couldn't find real work (who else would spend 4 years getting a degree (that a budgie could get entrance to and pass) - then to accept wages lower than manual labour)
  4. Student performance in schools is lower than expected (although many point the finger here at OBE) - as evidenced by state school TEE performances
  5. Extra curricular work has become the norm and expected rather than a point of difference between teachers
  6. Union has weak support and leadership
  7. DET has a teacher shortage in critical areas of schools
  8. Business has become critical of quality of student output from school and has publically supported the need for teacher pay reform
  9. Students are leaving the state school system for private school education despite having access in many cases to smaller class sizes and access to long term experienced teachers bound in place by 'tenure' type agreements

Unfortunately the community does not equate professional status with social justice or good education. Professions in WA are not valued by the community by the work that they do (and the promotion of social equity) but by the money that they earn.

If we are to change the mindset of the public, raise expectations, raise morale of teachers in the profession and improve the calibre of those entering the profession, a fixed rate increase is required (such has been done in other countries) with a publicity campaign explaining why the teacher rise is different to other rises (such as public service rises) and a good idea before inflationary increases are addressed.

When the mean salary of a teacher approaches at least the average WA salary, then we have a starting point for an improvement in the ongoing education saga.

Monday, July 21, 2008

DET Pay rise and the fine print

It seems the new pay rise has been delivered and interesting stuff is beginning to hit the fan. My criticism and scepticism of the union (and reason for not joining until now) seems to be valid.

The pay rise offered (in the scant terms described and according to heresay) is below inflation, is over three to four years, has reduced conditions and has the approval of the union. DET looks to be negotiating hard and trying to get this resolved quickly before the imminent state election.

Union information is posted here:

but here is the counter argument to union information posted by Marko Vojkovic at :

"The official base rate increases are:4.5%, 4.5%, 4% and a floating 2% at the end of the agreement. That equates to 15% over 3+ years. If you take into account it is only backdated to this pay period, it is almost over 4 years.

It is a 1.5%-2% increase on EBA 2 with extra trade offs. The 15 hours PD in your own time is there as is the flexible working hours (which strangely do not appear in the summary) These are from 8am to 6pm.

There are increases for ST2 in terms of a new level, but these must be applied for and involve extra duties so it is unfair to include them in any pay rise. It is a complete sell out. The Minister required Executive to endorse the package before showing it to members.

There was a deadline for the Executive to accept it without actually seeing the full package. Ross Greenwood, the financial analyst on the Today Show on Channel 9 stated that the cost of living has increased by 4.8% and if your wages do not increase by that amount, you are taking a pay cut. This offer asks teachers to take a significant pay cut over 4 years.

This is the complete opposite of the Twomey Report recommendations.Once again, we have been let down by our 'experienced' Senior Officers.When was this offer negotiated and by whom?

If arbitration is suspended, then we are back in negotiations. Either our Senior Officers have been negotiating in secret or they have accepted DET's first offer without presenting a counter offer.

Either way, I feel incredibly let down. Even the way it has been presented to members reminds me of those misleading government ads.

We will now see a huge VOTE YES campaign waged by our Union Senior Officers and their group of sycophantic supporters who believe that what is good for the Labor Party is good for teachers. This can not be allowed to happen yet again."

As always the devil is in the details and the fine print.

Updated here (6 October 2008).