Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Breakthrough in Victorian Teachers Pay Dispute

by Melissa Jenkins, 21st Century News:

There has been a major breakthrough in the long-running Victorian teachers’ pay battle, with the government backing down on performance pay.

The union says it is a sign the new Premier Denis Napthine is prepared to listen to teachers’ concerns but the parties are yet to agree on salaries, contract teaching and several other issues.

Government and Australian Education Union (AEU) negotiators are due to meet again on Wednesday afternoon.

Dr Napthine said the government remained committed to performance pay but was willing to cut that aspect out of enterprise bargaining negotiations with the union in a bid to resolve the long-running dispute.

“We seek to deal with the issue of performance pay outside the EBA process,” he told parliament on Tuesday. “I call upon the teachers’ union to accept this act of good faith.”

AEU Victoria president Meredith Peace said the union would never accept performance pay because it did not lead to better student outcomes.

She said the government’s move was a positive, small step but the union wasn’t celebrating yet. “It shows that the new premier is prepared to listen to our profession,” Ms Peace said. “This is a small step in the right direction but there is still much work to be done.”

Ms Peace said the outstanding issues included salaries, workloads, class sizes and the high level of contract employment. 

The union revised down its pay claim last November to a 12.6 per cent increase over three years, while the government’s wages policy was 2.5 per cent plus extra for productivity gains. “We actually now need to see what they are prepared to offer,” Ms Peace said.

Former premier Ted Baillieu promised, before the coalition won government, to make Victoria’s teachers the best paid in Australia. Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews said Dr Napthine should become personally involved in negotiations rather than grand stand in parliament.

“Instead of these faux concessions, the mock drama on the floor of the parliament, Mr Napthine should get in a room and get a deal done,” he said.

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