Teachers’ Federation representatives Mike Hay (left) and Brett Hunter address striking TAFE teachers at the Lismore City Hall yesterday.
Teachers’ Federation representatives Mike Hay (left) and Brett Hunter address striking TAFE teachers at the Lismore City Hall yesterday. David Nielsen

Striking TAFE teachers blast State

ANGRY North Coast TAFE teachers defied the State Industrial Relations Commission yesterday with a 24-hour strike in protest at the imposition of what they call ‘WorkChoices-type conditions’.

Gathering at the Lismore City Hall, about 100 TAFE teachers blasted the IRC ruling, describing it as the commission’s worst decision in 100 years.

The commission had advised teachers not to strike and Education Minister Verity Firth has declared the action illegal.

While teachers have received a 12.48 per cent increase over three years in exchange for an additional 36 hours of work annually, they claim it effectively amounts to a 20pc increase in workload offset by a 1.5pc salary increase.

North Coast Teachers’ Federation organiser Kathy Nicholson said under the new award, teachers could be directed to perform 35 hours face-to-face teaching per week – which did not account for the one to two preparation hours required for each teaching hour.

“We must be the only workers in Australia who can be directed to do unpaid overtime,” she said, claiming it effectively amounted to a reduction of $7 per hour.

NSW Education Minister Verity Firth has denied this, claiming TAFE teachers were the highest paid in Australia.

Casino Teachers’ Federation representative Mike Hay told the Lismore meeting a delegation he travelled with to Sydney this week was denied an audience with Ms Firth.

Wearing a bright red T-shirt stating, ‘Where on Earth is Verity Firth’, he said the Minister would not talk to delegates in her Balmain office because they weren’t her constituents – but when two Balmain-based teachers approached her, they were told to send an email.

Teachers are calling on the NSW Premier to intervene, but so far she has not honoured her December promise to meet with the federation.



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