Victorian teachers are imposing work bans and planning further industrial action after the union’s biggest ever strike action in June. Australian Education Union (AEU) members have banned implementation of the national curriculum, the Ultranet computer system, department surveys and are authorised to stop work if Liberal or National politicians visit their school.

A further state-wide stopwork is planned for late in Term 3. With Education Support staff negotiations also at a standstill united action by all workers in public schools is possible.

Baillieu’s Liberal Government has raised the stakes by releasing a Discussion Paper outlining a “shopping list” conservative agenda for education including performance pay, sacking the 5 per cent “ worst performing” teachers,  professional development courses during school holidays and business executives as school principals.

The AEU has rejected plans for performance pay in current negotiations. The discussion paper shows that this is part of a longer term agenda to undermine collaborative working conditions among teachers.

Victorian public servants recently set a benchmark with 4.4 per cent a year pay increases, well above the 2.5 per cent pay cap. We also need to win improvements over conditions and for contract teachers, just under 20 per cent of the workforce. The AEU is demanding automatic transition to ongoing employment after three years in one school.

The AEU leadership is planning a “comprehensive and long term” campaign combining occasional stopwork action with work bans and protests in key electorates. But work bans are out of public view and don’t directly impact the government. We need to hit the government with a succession of high profile stopwork actions. This can create an immediate political crisis for the government and build momentum for teachers to win.

Hamish McPherson

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