The Guardian 25 May, 2005

"Peanuts" say SA teachers

Dan Murphy

"Peanuts" cried Australian Education Union President Andrew Gohl before throwing a handful at the 2000-plus members gathered on Adelaideís Parliament steps on May 12.

He was describing the state governmentís response to the Unionís Enterprise Bargaining claim.

South Australian teachers were the highest paid in the country in 1991. Since then years of Liberal Government attacks and austerity following the State Bank collapse have seen them slip back to the lowest paid. They are seeking an 18 per cent increase over three years to make up for some of their losses. The government has only offered 11 per cent.

Just as importantly, the AEU claim seeks improvements to teaching conditions in schools. Increasing class sizes and student behaviour management are issues for students and parents as well as teachers. The AEU has been raising these issues with parents to gain support which will be particularly important should government intransigence force school staff to take industrial action.

Teachers at the rally, and others held around the state, called on Premier Mike Rann to live up to his self-proclaimed "Education Premierí tag.

Andrew Gohl also warned members of the need to fight federal government attempts to introduce AWAs in the TAFE system describing them as, "the single biggest issue we face, and indeed all workers face, across the nation".

In a year of attacks on unionism it was encouraging to see a well organised turn out. The rallies passed motions supporting continued action in support of the unionís claims. Watch this space.

Dan Murphy is Communications Coordinator, AEU SA Branch

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