Ask your local newspaper why they didn't cover this history-making strike!
100,000 teachers demand action
By Paul Robinson
September 18, 2003
Almost 100,000 teachers across Australia yesterday shut down hundreds of public schools, in the nation's largest strike by a single workforce.
In Victoria, about 110 schools and pre-schools closed and hundreds of others were disrupted after almost 20,000 teachers joined the strike. More than 800 schools closed in NSW.
At least 70,000 students missed out on school across Victoria and up to 120,000 others had their day disrupted.
At Melbourne Park, a stopwork meeting of at least 9000 teachers warned of further local, regional and statewide action at the start of school next year unless the Victorian Government boosted its 9 per cent salary offer over three years. Teachers want 25 to 30 per cent.
The action is estimated to have cost Victorian employers at least $9 million and business losses in other states were estimated as high as $100 million.
The Victorian Employers Chamber of Commerce and Industry said the action had a significant impact on business.
VECCI workplace director David Gregory said in NSW, where almost 45,000 teachers walked out, employers said losses were as high as $100 million but he felt local productivity losses were closer to $9 million.
"It's been a pretty complicated day for employers. I think more teachers went out than expected. People have elected to work at home, brought kids to work or have taken a day off to look after children," he said.
Australian Education Union president Mary Bluett told the Melbourne meeting that 67 schools and 40 pre-schools had shut with many more disrupted in a "historic day of national action".
Teachers were bussed in for the Melbourne rally from Bendigo, Ballarat, Geelong and Gippsland.
Regional mass meetings were also held at Mildura, Echuca, Albury and Warrnambool. The AEU also reported it had signed up 1000 new members.
Ms Bluett said the union had identified teacher shortages of 5000 by 2005. She said Victoria had the lowest number of teachers in training compared to students and the highest teacher exit rates of any Australian state.
She said in Victoria there were 9106 teachers in training for a one-in-90 teacher-student ratio; in NSW there were 16,460 trainees for a ratio of one-in-67; in Queensland there were 14,668 trainees for a ratio of one-in-42.
Ms Bluett said: "We say to parents we are sorry for the disruption and the inconvenience but we are trying to ensure the long-term future of state education."
State Education Minister Lynne Kosky said the teachers' pay claim was "completely out of the ball park".
And she rejected staffing fears saying independent research showed shortages of only 500 by 2007.