‘The profession is at breaking point’: WA teachers set to strike

‘The profession is at breaking point’: WA teachers set to strike

Next Tuesday, the state’s public primary and high school teachers will walk off the job in protest over pay and work conditions.

The decision comes after the union representing WA teachers has rejected a new pay and conditions offer from the state government, setting the stage for a half-day strike to go ahead on 23 April.

The union has been pushing for a 12% pay rise over two years, but the government has offered 11% over three years.

In a letter to parents, Matt Jarman, president of the State School Teachers' Union of WA (SSTUWA) said the teaching profession in the public education system is “at breaking point”.

“The Education Department’s own red tape review indicates that the problem goes to the more fundamental question of whether the job of teaching as currently performed and organised is doable or sustainable,” Jarman said.

“This situation applies to the schools your children are being educated at if you are a parent of one of the 72 per cent of primary students or 66 per cent of secondary pupils who goes to a public school.”

Jarman said the state’s public education system must be fixed for the benefit of teachers, principals, and above all for students.

“This is the first stop work action teachers have taken in over a decade. That’s how serious the situation has become for our members.”

WA Education Minister Tony Buti said he was hopeful the strike can be averted but noted that contingencies are being put in place in case it goes ahead.

“This is being worked through, it's a half-day strike, the Education Department is working through that process,” ABC News quoted the Minister as saying.

Dr Saul Karnovsky from Curtin University’s School of Education says teachers have been pushed to the brink, and it’s critical the State Government takes their requests seriously.

“No teacher enjoys walking off the job, but the profession has reached crisis point: our teachers are overworked, underpaid, undervalued and ready to call it quits,” Dr Karnovsky said.

“If pay and conditions don’t improve, we won’t be able to attract the best teachers and we will continue losing those we have. In a state so rich in human and resource capital, the WA government should do everything it can to value teachers and provide better workloads, conditions and pay.”