Teachers went on a massive strike and stopped work in Victoria after a meeting of the education union concluded it was time to urge Premiere Ted Baillieu to fulfill his campaign promise to make Victorian teachers the best paid in the country.
Teachers Rally against Undelivered Campaign Promise
The teachers on strike began marching to the steps of Parliament at 12.15pm Thursday. Thousands of teachers packed Melbourne's Hisense Arena. The disgruntled educators wore red shirts covered by a sign that said: "Honour your word Mr Baillieu."
'It's Not about the Money'
Some of the teachers joining the strike are not looking out just for themselves.
Allyson Hankin from Pleasant St Primary School in Ballarat, said she was already at the end of her career after three years of teaching. But she wished to support her fellow teachers.
"It's not about the money for me because I'm at the end of my career, but I really object to the number of teachers on contracts," Ms Hankin told the AAP.
No Job Security
Teachers were protesting the 2.5 per cent pay increase offered by the State Government, calling it an insult. Moreover, the teachers are also urging the government to give educators a sense of job security and reduce contract-based employment.
Carlton North Primary School principal Julie Large said joined the strike for the young teachers who are leaving the state.
"I'm really concerned about the fact that young teachers can travel interstate and get significantly higher rates of pay, and that we're going to lose some of our best and brightest teachers because of that," she told the AAP.
'Get Back to Negotiations'
For his part, Premiere Ted Baillieu said the Government wanted teachers to come back to the negotiating table instead of going on strike.
The state was looking into giving 70 per cent of teachers the chance of getting performance bonus on top of the annual 2.5 per cent increase.
"We think that is a fair and reasonable offer," Mr Baillieu said, while expressing disappointment over the strike. He said it was disrupting students and families.
Victoria Teachers Getting $7000 less than WA
Two primary schools in Mornington Shire and three in Frankston have closed Thursday as teachers chose to stop work, according to Mornington Peninsula.
"Victorian teachers are the lowest paid in the country; we get $7000 less than WA," Baxter Primary School teacher Victoria Freeman told the paper, adding, "We understand it is an inconvenience to parents but at the same time we need to put some pressure on the government."
David Adamson, principal of Essendon Keilor College in Melbourne, told ABC: "I think it would be much better to pay people a decent salary and provide them with the support they need to improve their performance."