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Teachers strike today – “difficult decision” but action needed on teacher shortages says union

Dec 7, 2021


Public school teachers are on a 24-hour strike today which is seeing schools across the Hawkesbury lightly staffed and normal lessons suspended, but the Teachers Federation (TF) say they had to take the action to draw attention to a widespread teacher shortage.


While the Department of Education – in a letter forwarded to parents by school Principals late last week – painted the strike as revolving around pay, the TA say it’s mostly about drawing attention to the 1800 vacant permanent teacher positions across NSW, including in the Hawkesbury.


“Teachers and Principals have made the difficult decision to go on strike,” said NSW TA President Angelo Gavrielatos.


“This will be the first 24 hour stoppage in a decade and it reflects the gravity of the situation we find ourselves in.


“We are deeply concerned about growing teacher shortages and the impact they are having on students across NSW,” he said.


There are more than 1800 vacant permanent positions in schools, from Bondi to Broken Hill, says Mr Gavrielatos.


He pointed to the Department of Education’s own research which showed large and growing shortages of teachers.


“Due to rising student enrolments, an ageing workforce and a significant decrease in the number of people enrolling in teacher education courses, the teacher shortages will only get worse,” he says.


“Uncompetitive salaries and unsustainable workloads are making it harder to keep teachers in the job and have reduced the attractiveness of the profession to high achieving young people.


“While the work of teachers has become more complex and challenging, their salaries have fallen well behind the average of other professions.”


The government has offered the teachers a 2.5% pay rise.


“For 18 months we have tried to reach an agreement with the NSW government on a reset of teacher salaries to better reflect the work teachers do and make them competitive again with other professions,” Mr Gavrielatos said.


“Teachers’ workloads are also excessive, particularly the administration and compliance obligation which detract from the time they have for lesson planning and focusing on the needs of individual students.


“We have also sought an increase of two hours in the preparation time teachers have each week – the current two hour entitlement has not changed since the 1980 for primary teachers and the 1950s for secondary teachers,” he says.


Hawkesbury teachers and Principals who have joined today’s one-day strike will be back at work tomorrow.


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