Victorian public school support staff to vote on industrial action
19 July 2012
Victoria's public education support staff are one step closer to joining state teachers and principals in a historic joint statewide stopwork, following Fair Work Australia's decision today to grant a protected action ballot.
Fair Work Australia's decision allows the AEU's almost 7000 education support staff members to vote on whether to take industrial action.
AEU Victorian branch president Mary Bluett said that the union was encouraged by today's decision and if the ballot is passed, could lead to the first ever joint stop-work between teachers, principals and support staff in Victoria's history.
"As per FWA's ruling today, support staff will vote on a ballot on whether to take industrial action and we are expecting this ballot to be declared within three weeks.
"Victoria's public school support staff remain the lowest paid in our schools and receive little or no recognition of their skills, experience or the crucial role they play.
"Eighty per cent of Victorian education support staff earn between approximately $35,000 and $56,000, with 45% on short-term contracts.
"They perform important roles in our schools and offer crucial support to Victoria's public schools. If we want to continue to attract and retain the best people to support our students and our teachers, then we need to improve their salaries and conditions.
"We are confident that this ballot will be passed by our members who are fed up with not being valued by a State Government that appears hell-bent on taking public education backwards.
"Negotiations with the Baillieu Government broke down on Tuesday after they refused to make any reasonable offers around the major issues of salaries and contract employment, and are attacking existing employment conditions.
"The AEU was committed to reaching an agreement for support staff and called for intensive negotiations with the Baillieu Government. Despite attending meetings twice a week, including over the term break, negotiations have broken down.
"The Baillieu Government is sending a message to Victoria that it does not value public education. In the past 12 months, they have been responsible for almost $2 billion in cuts and broken promises.
"They have also cut $300 million from Victoria's public TAFE sector, resulting in major job losses, course and campus closures and student fee hikes.
"We call on the Baillieu Government to reconsider their position and offer Victoria's public school support staff, teachers and principals a fair deal," Ms Bluett said.
Education support staff include administration, classroom support, teacher aides, library, lab and IT technicians, maintenance, welfare, attendance officers to mention only a few.