A shortage of teachers in NSW schools will become a full-blown crisis if the government does not act now, protesters claimed today.
Thousands of public school teachers, struggling with long working hours, went on strike for the day and marched from Hyde Park to NSW Parliament House, demanding wage increases and better working conditions.
It was the second such industrial action in six months and Angel Gavrielatos, the president of the NSW Teachers Federation, warned without change ongoing shortages would make the education system inoperable by 2030.
Gavrielatos told Central News: “We already have a teacher shortage. We are now looking at a teacher shortage crisis by the end of the decade.
“Fifteen thousand additional teachers are required, yet this government remains in denial. The government knows that. When you know the cause of the problem, you know the solution.
“This government has failed.”
Teachers gathered outside Parliament House, waving banners and posters while loudly chanting slogans such as ‘No Teachers, No Future’ and ‘More Than Thanks’.
Protestors even made Star Wars posters referencing May the 4th as Star Wars Day in which they compared the Perrottet government to the Empire, and themselves to the Resistance.
The NSW government agreed a 2.5 per cent pay increase for teachers on January 1, and claims its Teacher Supply Strategy will provide a sustainable number of new teachers for vital subjects and locations. It says it will train 3,700 teachers over the next decade, with 1,600 to come within five years. The government has committed $125 million over the next four years to the strategy.
The NSW Department of Education condemned today’s protest saying in a statement: “The Department of Education has repeatedly called on the Federation to put students first and call off today’s industrial action.
“The Department will do all it can to minimise disruption to teaching and learning.”
However, teachers at the rally told Central News the disruption is already happening.
Barton Johnston, the Federation representative at Taree High School, said: “It’s a matter of either disrupt one day now which is regrettable or live in constant disruptions because the disruption is already happening.
“Everyday around the state, schools are having classes on minimum supervision… they’re not learning as well as they could be.”
The NSW government said they offered to consider wages in the next budget, but Gavrielatos was dismissive.
“It’s a non-offer. We suspended industrial action in Term 1 and invited the government to negotiate. They’ve refused to take up that opportunity,” he said.
Prue Car, the shadow education minister, added: “If Dominic Perrottet is going to find a way through this crisis with our teachers in the budget, why won’t he announce it now, so that this can be avoided tomorrow.
“The government has not negotiated with teachers in good faith.”
Schools were either closed today or remained open with very limited staff as the teacher’s union vowed to continue campaigning until the union’s demands were met.