Union bosses from the Australian Education Union are demanding a 3.5% interim pay rise – equating to about $80 million a year and nearly double the rate of inflation – in stark contrast to public claims that tomorrow’s teachers’ strike has nothing to do with wages.
Treasurer Rob Lucas said it was time for AEU SA president Howard Spreadbury to “come clean’’ with South Australian parents and grandparents about the full extent of his union’s claims, as tens of thousands scramble to find alternate care arrangements for their children during the morning strike.
“Contrary to the union bosses’ public claims that this strike is all about conditions, such as smaller class sizes and gifted and talented programs, in addition to the 3.5% salary rise they have also asked for:
• Additional salary increases to make up for the ‘gender pay gap’ between education and other industries – possible cost up to $23 million per annum
• An extra 60 minutes’ non-instruction time per week per teacher for ‘collaboration with peers and professional responsibilities outside the classroom – possible cost up to $59 million per annum
• An extra 2 days’ sick leave per teacher – possible cost $15.3 million per annum
• Extra non-instruction time for all teachers for report writing – possible cost up to $28.8 million per annum
“So, while Mr Spreadbury is telling parents and grandparents one thing, he’s doing something entirely different behind-the-scenes,” said Mr Lucas.
“All we’re saying is, if you’re going to put unnecessary pressure on families, by creating maximum disruption and inconvenience with very little notice, then the least you can do is be upfront and honest about the motives behind it.”
Mr Lucas said the Marshall Government was delivering a record investment in education – with State Budget papers showing recurrent annual funding for schools increasing by $515 million per year by 2021-22 – the biggest investment in schools by any State Government in the state’s history.
“A quick glance at the State Budget papers shows an additional $196 million in recurrent funding this year compared to last year. There are further increases of $135 million next year, then $51 million extra in 2020-21 and $133m extra in 2021-22,” said Mr Lucas.
“In addition to this massive increase in funding, the State Government has just signed a 10-year Federal/State funding deal which locks in big increases in Federal and State Government funding in the following years.”
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“Union bosses should be discussing with the Government the best ways to spend this massive increase in funding to impact positively on student learning outcomes, rather than going on strike,’’ said Mr Lucas.
“It is quite clear that the more of this extra funding that is spent on salary increases and non-instruction time, the less funding will be available to spend on new literacy and numeracy programs and on phonics checks for all Year 1 students.”
Mr Lucas said this funding was on top of the $1 billion being invested in capital projects, including two brand new birth to Year 12 schools for the metropolitan area delivered under a Public Private Partnership model, and a new $100 million school in Whyalla.
“Union bosses need to understand strike action will not magically generate extra funding for education over these massive increases already included in the budget,” said Mr Lucas.
*As per 2018-19 Budget Paper 3 Table 2.8
**As per 2018-19 Budget Paper 3 Table 2.18